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Technology improves sugarcane production

China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-10 10:02

A farmer drives an agricultural machine to cover newly planted sugarcane seeds with mulching film in Rongan county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Feb 27. TAN KAIXING/XINHUA

NANNING — As heavy rain clouds gather over Shangtang village in Wuxuan county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, drivers eye their buffalo herds in the distance and hasten their pace, while unmanned tractors maintain their steady advance across the sugarcane fields.

During this spring plowing season, farmers sitting behind driverless sugarcane tractors, guided by the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, drop sugarcane seeds at regular intervals. With the help of the automated tractors, the process of planting, fertilizing and mulching can be completed in one go.

Modern agricultural technology and mechanization were a real game changer for Wuxuan, one of China's major sugarcane planting areas. Today, the seeding of sugarcane is 10 times more efficient than before.

Tractors now follow a pre-designed route planned by the Beidou.

"With the help of Beidou, we can control the deviation of the straight lines within 2 centimeters, as well as control the distance within 5 centimeters between each line, which can benefit photosynthesis and the absorption of nutrients and oxygen in sugarcane," said Wu Qihui, director of Wuxuan Bosheng Agricultural Machinery Specialized Cooperative. "Also, the favorable ventilation is crucial to achieving high yield."

In 2020, local farmer Lu Ruwen joined the cooperative, which hires out agricultural machinery and equipment. He said it used to take him a week to plant his 1.33 hectares of farmland by hand.

"Now it takes just one day to finish all the work," said Lu, who has been planting sugarcane in southern China for more than 10 years.

In addition to the efficient equipment, quality sugarcane seeds are also crucial to boosting yields.

In the cooperative's breeding base, rows of tall, bushy sugarcane ready for harvest are the early-maturing, high-sugar variety introduced from the regional branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "Later, they will be cut into 20-centimeter-long stalks and then disinfected in our processing workshop," said Wu, adding that their standardized sugarcane seeds are popular because of their higher yield, which can produce 120 metric tons per hectare.

With better policy support for agricultural production, local villagers are increasingly willing to participate in the development of modern agriculture. "The government also has corresponding subsidies for those who adopt mechanized farming methods or disinfected and healthy sugarcane varieties," explained Mo Tingjin, director of the Agricultural Mechanization Service Center of Laibin, a city in Guangxi. "Many farmers can even plant sugarcane at no cost with these subsidies."


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