Young Chinese adopt intelligent tech for agricultural production

(People's Daily Online) 09:30, July 27, 2023

During a recent agriculture competition in Shanghai's Chongming Island, a group of young people constantly optimized intelligent algorithms to grow lettuce with better quality and higher yields while lowering energy consumption in the absence of soil and sunshine.

College students check on the growth of plants in a machine in Xifangezhuang village, Pinggu district, Beijing. (Photo/Hu Ranyang)

The third Smart Agriculture Competition, which was launched by Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo themed on using artificial intelligence to grow lettuce in containers, was recently held on the island.

The competition included agricultural research teams from China Agricultural University, the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and other research institutions.

Pinduoduo, one of the organizers of the competition, encouraged winners to further improve their agricultural research results and apply their technical solutions to help boost the development of agriculture and rural areas.

"We hope to take this opportunity to promote technical exchanges, innovation and development in agriculture, as well as the high-quality development of agricultural technologies in China," said Wang Jian, senior vice president of Pinduoduo.

Wang added that the competition can attract more young innovative talent and outstanding modern agricultural enterprises to participate in scientific and technological innovation in agriculture, promote the application of agricultural, scientific and technological achievements, and improve the quality of agricultural products and farmers' incomes.

Most Chinese farmers still grow vegetables based on experience, but the younger generation relies on data rather than individual experience, said Xu Dan, a contestant in the competition.

Glass greenhouses of the agricultural company Xu works for are equipped with automatic spray devices, thermal curtains, and temperature and humidity sensors, among others. Based on such equipment, a smart system can directly assign workers to do farm work in greenhouses.

Smart agriculture, based on Internet of Things (IoT) devices and corresponding agricultural information systems, makes agricultural production more stable and controllable by monitoring and improving the growing environment of crops. Farmers are applying more and more smart technologies in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

Eyeing the promising smart agriculture, Zhi Duo Mei, a team of technology talents that placed second in the first Pinduoduo's Smart Agriculture Competition two years ago, established a company to deploy more digital technologies in agricultural production.

The company has developed hardware, software, and algorithm products like intelligent irrigation and intelligent greenhouse environment control. Forty sets of smart systems developed by the company have been applied to the planting of strawberries and blueberries in provincial-level regions, including Liaoning, Yunnan, Anhui, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai and Beijing.

The company's digital system for planting strawberry reduces the total cost of the strawberry industry in Laowo village, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Yunnan Province by about 30 percent. Specifically, the system cuts the fertilizer cost by 2,500 yuan ($350) per mu (0.067 hectares), and the crop protection cost by 1,000 yuan, and raises the yield by 30 percent. It has helped local farmers fatten their wallets and boosted local industrial development.

In recent years, new farm tools like crop protection drones, the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, no-till seeders, and smart agricultural IoT have been widely applied in agricultural production in China's rural areas. Young Chinese have acted as a major force in the use of these new farm tools.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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