* Advancements in agricultural technology have gradually become vital allies to the farmers of Xinjiang. From planting to harvesting, mechanization and intelligent facilities have been widely applied.
* Xinjiang's commitment to agricultural mechanization is evident, with 100 percent mechanization in plowing and seeding, 80 percent in harvesting, and an overall mechanization rate of 94 percent in cotton farming.
* The regional government has been actively promoting the use of large-scale cotton harvesting machines among farmers and cooperatives and spurring companies to increase agricultural machinery production.
URUMQI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- During the recent cotton harvest season in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, there was a distinct lack of human activity in the fields. Instead, the landscape was dominated by large harvesting machines.
Xinjiang is a major hub of cotton production. In 2022, the cotton output in Xinjiang reached 5.39 million tonnes, accounting for 90.2 percent of China's output and approximately 20 percent of all cotton produced globally.
In recent years, advancements in agricultural technology have gradually become vital allies to the farmers of Xinjiang. From planting to harvesting, mechanization and intelligent facilities have been widely applied.
In Manas County, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, farmer Pan Xiaoqin has traded the laborious task of manual picking for supervising the efficient machines in his fields.
"Previously, the cost of manual labor per hectare was around 12,000 to 15,000 yuan (approximately 1,671 to 2,089 U.S. dollars). Now, with mechanization, the cost has dropped below 3,000 yuan," he said.
Manas boasts a cotton planting area of about 49,000 hectares this year, with harvesting mechanization at 100 percent and a remarkable 95 percent collection rate, according to the data of the local agriculture and rural affairs bureau.
Mechanization has also been applied to planting and beyond.
Pan notes that the unmanned seeders, guided by the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), ensure the precision of both quantity and placement of seeds. Additionally, these machines are capable of laying drip irrigation belts and plastic film while sowing, with a negligible margin of error.
"Mechanization saves more than 50 percent of cotton seeds and enhances land utilization by 3 percent. With standardized agricultural operations, tasks like field operation, picking, and material recycling are significantly more efficient," Pan said.
Xinjiang's commitment to agricultural mechanization is evident, with 100 percent mechanization in plowing and seeding, 80 percent in harvesting, and an overall mechanization rate of 94 percent in cotton farming, according to the region's agricultural and rural affairs department.
The regional government has been actively promoting the use of large-scale cotton harvesting machines among farmers and cooperatives and spurring companies to increase agricultural machinery production. Supportive infrastructures and services, such as water-saving pipe networks and road maintenance, have been established to bolster farming practices.
SMARTER COTTON FIELDS
In Yuli County, Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin, Ai Haipeng and his colleague Ling Lei, both post-90s generation, oversee about 200 hectares of cotton fields, which used to require around 25 to 30 laborers to manage.
Ai and Ling, both from XAG, an agricultural technology company, have been pioneering a project to boost the intelligence of the cotton fields in Xingping Township of Yuli since 2021.
This innovative endeavor has introduced facilities like soil sensors, weather monitoring stations, farming operation recording systems, and a digital platform integrated with BDS and agricultural drones.
"We can monitor the cotton's condition at any time, adjusting our farming plans based on real-time data on light, temperature, air pressure, humidity, and rainfall," Ai said.
The smart cotton field has shown remarkable results, producing over 6.05 tonnes per hectare in 2022, about 750 kg more than the average yield of traditional cotton fields in Xingping, according to the agricultural and rural affairs bureau of Yuli.
The project has also achieved considerable savings in resources, reducing over 47.3 percent of irrigation water, 18.2 percent of fertilizer and 33.2 percent of pesticide, compared with fields managed by traditional methods.
"We aim to expand this smart project across more of Xinjiang's cotton fields, cutting costs, boosting efficiency, and alleviating the burdens of manual labor for farmers," Ai said.