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Robots doing farmwork in outskirts of Shanghai

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-21 09:11

An engineer maneuvers a farm robot in a field at the Diantian Farm in Shanghai on Jan 25. ZHAO YIHE/XINHUA

SHANGHAI — Rural farming has long been closely associated with cattle, plows and toil. Today, there are also agricultural robots and all sorts of other intelligent equipment, marking a significant shift in agricultural practices.

At the Diantian Farm in rural Shanghai, this transformation is noticeable. Here, robots operated by engineers have replaced conventional farming cattle.

Among the engineers is Li Wei, who was spotted guiding his agricultural robot with precision, clutching a controller. He is just one of over 70 engineers working at the Diantian rural cooperative, where rice is the main crop.

Over the past seven years, they have been engaged in research and development, resulting in the creation of over 60 types of agricultural robots capable of performing tasks ranging from planting to harvesting.

The robots use crawler feet that can adeptly navigate various types of terrain, while their artificial intelligence operating system serves as the brain to plan their movements.

Farmers simply need to log on to the system through the WeChat mini program on their mobile phones and switch on the robots. "I grew up in the countryside, and I know farmwork can be extremely exhausting," said Wang Jinyue, head of the Diantian agricultural cooperative.

In contrast to the past, a long line of agricultural robots are dotting the field to assist with farmwork today.

They operate efficiently, accurately and tirelessly, said Wang, noting that technologies such as 5G, image recognition and big data enable the robots to swiftly calculate the distance to the crops and achieve rapid harvesting within seconds.

The weeding robots can not only accurately distinguish between grass and crops, but also guide the specialized blades to remove weeds precisely, he said, adding that each weeding robot can operate for eight hours on a one-hour charge.

The agricultural robots at Diantian Farm are equipped with China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, also known as BDS. BDS is used in more than 100,000 sets of agricultural machinery automated driving systems in China.

The modernization of agriculture is underway throughout the country. In Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, intelligent equipment has made vegetable cultivation more cost-effective and efficient.

Here, an automated vegetable farm has achieved unmanned production in the entire process of cultivating green leafy vegetables. A vegetable planting area spanning about 13 hectares requires only five farmers.

China unveiled its "No 1 central document" for 2024 earlier this month, outlining the priorities for comprehensively promoting rural vitalization this year.

The document called for consolidating the support of agricultural science and technology and intensifying the research on core technologies of germplasm resources.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the contribution rate of agricultural scientific and technological progress exceeded 62 percent in 2022, with the overall mechanization rate of crop cultivation and harvest reaching 73 percent.


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