Young PhD student brings new approach to tomato growing in Inner Mongolia

(People's Daily Online) 11:02, January 25, 2024

PhD student Xu Lianghe often checks on how the tomatoes are growing in a greenhouse in Dongsheng district, Ordos city, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The 27-year-old from Northwest A&F University in Xianyang city, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has been working here for four months. “I'll probably stay in Ordos to develop my career," Xu said.

Photo shows tomatoes in a greenhouse where Xu Lianghe works in Ordos city, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Photo/Li Aiping)

"I have a natural affinity for agriculture and rural areas," said Xu, who was raised in the countryside of Jining, east China's Shandong Province.

His research topic is related to greenhouse tomato planting in Ordos’ Dongsheng district.

"I gradually developed a love for this land," Xu said, recalling that 10 teachers of an innovation team from Northwest A&F University, including Professor Li Jianming who has been engaged in facility agriculture for many years, came to Ordos in 2022.

The professor then arranged for teachers and students to travel from Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi, to Ordos on at least 10 occasions, surveying local environmental data and farmers' cultivation conditions before deciding to embark on a journey of the innovative application of facility agriculture technologies in Ordos.

File photo shows Xu Lianghe in a greenhouse in Dongsheng district, Ordos city, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Photo courtesy of Xu Lianghe)

In September 2023, Xu and another student, Li Haojie, as "pioneers" of the university's innovative team, arrived at an agricultural park 30 kilometers from Dongsheng district to grow tomatoes. They sowed seeds brought from thousands of kilometers away. Under their meticulous care, the seeds sprouted, and the tomato plants grew healthily and began to bear fruit.

However, a sudden heavy snow on Dec. 10, 2023 almost had a catastrophic impact on their work. Xu had checked the weather forecast, but the heavy snow arrived a day early. Fortunately, under the guidance of Professor Li Jianming, they had prepared tools such as snow blowers and devised a snow removal plan.

Xu Lianghe cleans snow on the rooftop of a greenhouse. (Photo courtesy of Xu Lianghe)

A day later, they started to take action. "The snow on the rooftop of the greenhouse had to be cleared as soon as possible, otherwise it would have led to severe freezing damage to the tomatoes in the greenhouse," Xu said.

After five hours of intense work, they finally completed clearing all the snow off the rooftop of the greenhouse by noon that day.

Xu hopes to blaze a new trail of vegetable cultivation in western China’s barren land with the technologies he has mastered.

"The tomatoes produced in the greenhouse have been brought to the dining tables of citizens," Xu said with satisfaction.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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