Modern methods help with bumper harvests
Farmers work on crops in a greenhouse in Yangqu county. [Photo by Li Zhaomin for China Daily]
As spring is the crucial time for agriculture, farmers in North China's Shanxi province are busy working on their land and hoping for a good harvest this year.
And the use of modern means of operation is putting their expectations on more solid ground.
In Pinglu county in the south of Shanxi, farmers are using water from the Yellow River to irrigate their 9,000-plus hectares of winter-sowed wheat.
Liang Wenbo, who was operating a spray-irrigation system in the field, highly praised the modern methods.
"Several years ago, we used to pump underground water from wells to irrigate and the cost was more than 1,500 yuan ($232) a hectare," Liang said. "Now the cost is reduced to some 750 yuan after the recent completion of an extensive irrigation system channeling water from the neighboring Yellow River."
He also noted the environmental benefits of using the spray system over flood irrigation.
"Flood irrigation consumes much more water and can lead to the salinization of soil," Liang said. "Spray irrigation can further save 200 yuan for each hectare of wheat, while improving the quality of soil."
In Ruicheng, a county to the west of Pinglu, farmers are pinning similar hopes on agricultural modernization.
Spring is the busiest time for local agronomists. They have to travel frequently and extensively to meet farmers' demand for technological services.
Li Fengchao, head of the agricultural technology station in Ruicheng, is not to be found in his office during this period. Instead, he can often be spotted in the fields.
He was busy measuring the soil thickness and moisture of farmland in various townships. He gave his suggestions on irrigation and fertilizing to township agricultural technicians through WeChat.
Li Yaping, a farmer in Qiaotou village in Ruicheng, said the services from experts like Li Fengchao are especially useful for farming.
"Unlike the traditional ways of farming, agriculture is becoming increasingly technology-intensive," Li Yaping said.
As modern technologies and techniques have greatly improved farming efficiency and economic benefits, local farmers' enthusiasm has increased steadily in recent years, according to Li Fengchao.
The technical official said this year's growing area of wheat in Ruicheng county reached 33,000 hectares, an increase of 1,770 hectares from the previous year.
Li Shu contributed to this story.