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Jinan demonstration area showcases high-tech agriculture in action

By Li Menghan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-25 23:21

An automatic sprinkler is in operation in an agricultural demonstration area in Jinan, Shandong province, on Monday. Li Menghan / China Daily

A demonstration area in Jinan, Shandong province, is pioneering a path towards high-quality, efficient, and productive agriculture through automation, green practices, and intelligent management.

Yang Lei, deputy general manager of Jinan City Development Group's Chengfa Agriculture Technology Company, highlighted the success of the demonstration area. Winter wheat yields are expected to reach an impressive 680 kilograms per mu (roughly 0.067 hectares), surpassing the average yield of 450 kg / mu for ordinary farmers this year.

Spanning 798 square kilometers, the demonstration area focuses on transforming traditional industries with new technologies, while safeguarding the Yellow River Basin's ecological health.

Recognizing Shandong's role as a major grain producer, the startup area dedicates 10,000 mu to exploring the power of technology in agriculture. This demonstration area is managed by Jinan Chengfa Agriculture Technology Company.

Since its establishment in 2022, the area has implemented a comprehensive digital agricultural management model. A network of ground sensors, aerial monitoring, and satellite data provides real-time information on soil conditions, weather, pest presence, and crop growth. This data is analyzed by a "digital brain" to generate precise instructions for irrigation, pest control, and other farm operations.

Over 500 sensors — some ground-based, some buried, and some even attached to crops - gather this crucial data.

The demonstration area prioritizes eco-friendly practices. In collaboration with the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the field is planted with Cnidium monnieri, a traditional Chinese herb that attracts beneficial insects. This natural approach reduces reliance on chemical pesticides, enhancing food safety and environmental protection.

By combining high-quality seeds, precise decision-making, and advanced management practices, the demonstration area has achieved significant savings. Compared to traditional methods, they've reduced seed usage by 13 percent, water usage by 58 percent, and pesticide and fertilizer inputs by 21 percent. Additionally, human labor costs have decreased by 30%.

A smart agriculture big data platform has been established, consolidating all sensor data through the 5G network. This allows for daily management of the vast area with minimal human intervention, only two staff members. While automation plays a major role, some tasks, like clearing debris from irrigation machinery, still require human assistance.

Hong Chao, a 33-year-old worker, exemplifies this collaboration between technology and human expertise. He operates a lateral moving sprinkler system, ensuring its smooth function while acknowledging its efficiency in saving labor and improving irrigation uniformity.

Considering the recent drought conditions in Shandong, the demonstration area's efficient irrigation methods are particularly valuable. Hong noted that using machinery allows for continuous operation, promoting optimal corn seedling emergence.

Jinan's demonstration area serves as a testament to the potential of high-tech agriculture. Yang emphasized Shandong's commitment to "upholding the food crop production strategy" by leveraging technology and farmland management to solidify the province's vital role in China's food security.

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