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Young farmers cotton on to high-tech help

Updated: 2023-12-22 09:05 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Ling Lei (left) and Ai Haipeng check crops on their Super Cotton Farm before harvesting. [Photo provided to China Daily]

It's about working smarter, not harder, Yang Yang and Mao Weihua report in Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang.

Thinking about the hard work that generations of Chinese farmers have gone through, working the land and tilling the fields, few young people would jump at the chance to take care of 3,000 mu (200 hectares) of cotton fields — equivalent to the size of 280 soccer pitches, especially as a beginner.

However, in the past three years, two young men, Ai Haipeng and Ling Lei, in their early 30s, have been working in Yuli county, Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, managing a 200-hectare Super Cotton Farm — and they are working smarter, not harder.

They come from XAG, a company based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, devoted to developing smart agriculture.

This year in Xinjiang, 85 percent of the region's cotton has been harvested by machines, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. In the areas north of the Tianshan Mountains, cotton harvested by machines accounts for more than 97 percent of the processed total.

Sitting on the south of the Tianshan Mountains, Bayingolin now sees 93 percent of the 213,000 hectares of cotton fields plowed, sown and harvested by machines.

Covering an area of nearly 60,000 square kilometers, and enjoying more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, Yuli is one of the largest production bases of quality cotton in China. About 90 percent of its farmland, 70,000 hectares, is for cotton, 39 percent of which is well-facilitated farmland with irrigation capabilities and adequate harvest equipment, strictly limiting the use of chemicals.

But Ai and Ling manage the Super Cotton Farm with more advanced tools than merely seeders, plows, cotton-picking machines and irrigation facilities.

Overall, the management of a cotton field involves four steps: plowing the land, sowing, managing and harvesting.

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