Agricultural technologies help Chinese farmers stabilize production, increase incomes

Photo shows a fruit-picking robot during an expo at the World Robot Conference 2022 in Beijing.

Photo shows a fruit-picking robot during an expo at the World Robot Conference 2022 in Beijing.

Published Sep 8, 2022


"Due to a recent increase in precipitation, please ensure the rational use of fertilizers and pesticides and prevent rice pests and diseases." After receiving a warning message on his phone via a digital agricultural platform, Qi Fang, a rice grower in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, led a crop protection team into his paddy fields.

Qi introduced that he manages his paddy fields based on the application of big data and can easily check information such as the soil moisture content, temperatures, and the presence of rice pests and diseases.

"Farming has become a meticulous process and a bumper rice harvest can now be ensured," Qi said, adding that the quality of rice can also be improved.

Qi is one of the farmers that has benefited from China's efforts to leverage agricultural technologies to help farmers stabilize agricultural production and raise incomes.

After 10 years of effort, agricultural technologies have contributed over 61 percent to the country's agricultural production, helping ensure that the total grain output could be kept above 650 million metric tons for seven consecutive years.

China is now capable of independently developing over 4,000 different kinds of agricultural machinery and equipment, with over 72 percent of the country’s crops being planted and harvested using machines.

China is promoting soybean-corn intercropping to ensure stable corn and soybean output in some regions.

Wang Wenchang, head of a planting cooperative in the Lingcheng district of Dezhou city in east China's Shandong Province, made further innovations with the application of this technology after adopting it to plant two lines of corn and four lines of soybean on a farm, having piloted this farming practice on 1,000 mu (about 66.7 hectares) of farmland.

Thanks to subsidies for agricultural machinery and the technical assistance offered by the local government, Wang was able to reduce the costs and increase the efficiency of planting.

"After the technological transformation, one kind of agricultural machinery can be used for both crops, which helps reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides while significantly cutting the costs per mu," Wang said.

Since the beginning of the year, soybean-corn intercropping has been trialed on 60,000 mu of farmland in Lingcheng district.

China has been developing modern agriculture with the support of science and technology, introduced Zhou Yunlong, director of the Department of Science, Technology and Education under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA).

Meanwhile, the MARA has stepped up efforts to encourage the widespread use of advanced practical agricultural technologies in recent years. At present, 56,000 agricultural technology promotion agencies and over 480,000 agricultural technicians have been set up in rural areas to provide technical guidance and other services for farmers, helping stabilize agricultural production and raise farmers' incomes.

The MARA has also established an agricultural technology promotion platform, which covers over 2,000 counties (or individual farms), to offer guidance to farmers.

Localities and departments across China have accelerated the establishment of a specialized agricultural service system to promote third-party cultivation and introduce high-quality crop varieties, advanced agricultural technologies, equipment and organization-based support to small household farmers. So far, over 950,000 socialized agricultural service organizations across the country have provided services for about 1.7 billion mu of farmland and over 78 million small household farmers.

China has boosted the development of smart agriculture. In recent years, localities in the country have promoted the in-depth integration of new technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud platforms, together with agricultural production. China has built 100 digital agriculture pilot projects and nine provincial regions into paragons for the roll out agricultural IoT.

In addition, China has promoted the introduction of high-quality seeds. High-quality seeds are now used for almost all major crop varieties in the country, with the self-sufficiency rate for seed supplies for major crops exceeding 95 percent, as revealed Yang Lisheng, a MARA official. In the most recent past 10 years, China has approved the registration of 39,000 crop varieties.

China has also boosted sales of agricultural products through e-commerce platforms. At present, the combined value of online retail sales in the country's rural areas has already exceeded 2 trillion yuan (about $291.8 billion), while online retail sales of agricultural products have surpassed 420 billion yuan.

Looking forward, China will promote further technological innovation in the field of agriculture, implement strategies for sustainable farmland use and the innovative application of agricultural technologies in order to increase the productivity of farmland, make breakthroughs in agricultural core technologies, and cultivate seed companies with a strong international competitiveness, Zhou said.

Zhou added that the country will also enhance its research and development and the application of heavy smart agricultural machinery, strengthen the control of crop pests and diseases, and develop new ways to promote agricultural technologies, in addition to helping more and more farmers have the chance to enjoy an increasingly better life.