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Xinjiang farmers employ drones in agricultural labor

(People's Daily Online)    17:00, September 14, 2016
Xinjiang farmers employ drones in agricultural labor

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are starting to be included in the agricultural production process in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Thanks to the services of a company named Xaircraft, farmers in the region can now replace their tractors with drones, which are capable of spraying pesticides and other chemicals across large swaths of land. The innovative service also gives farmers the option of placing orders on their mobile phones.

The beginning of autumn is harvest time for Xingjiang red peppers. The growing peppers hide beneath lush leaves, which can make it harder and more laborious for farmers to pick them. However, farming chemicals sprayed on the crops by UAVs can make the leaves fall to the ground, lowering the cost of manual picking.

According to Ma Zhanfu, a local farmer, the UAV service costs 8 yuan ($1.20) per mu (roughly 0.067 hectare), while it costs 6 to 7 yuan per mu for him to spray the chemical himself. However, the UAV method is more effective and does not damage the crops. Ma said he has faith in UAVs, and feels that they provide a very cost-effective service.

Another consideration is the health of the farmers. If farmers spray pesticides manually, they expose themselves more regularly to chemicals that can damage their health and potentially take years off their lives. That is one of the main reasons Xaircraft cites for offering its UAV services.

Zheng Tao, the COO of Xaircraft, said he was impressed by how readily local farmers embraced the new technology. Currently, in addition to Xinjiang, Xaircraft is also establishing its service network in Henan, Jiangsu and Jiangxi provinces.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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