100 villagers in the suburbs of the provincial capital Xi’an have joined the ‘remote control your farm’ project sponsored by Northwest China Agriculture and Forestry University. Mostly, they are growing watermelons.
The project, on trial since March in Yangling District, a high-tech agricultural zone in Xianyang City, 70 km west of Xi’an, has equipped greenhouses with sensors and meteorological monitoring devices.
Li Xin, a professor with Northwest China Agriculture and Forestry University, said, ‘It monitors temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed as well as exposure to sunlight. If farmers have any doubts, they can send their data to the university and get expert advice.’
He said the project was producing at least 10,000 kilograms of watermelons daily from 11 hectares of experimental crops. ‘They are sweeter and more watery, a result of the scientific farming process and use of organic fertilizer.’
China View reports that remote farming, which was piloted last year in the rich eastern province of Zhejiang, is still not very common in China, a country with 900 million farmers.
Yang Lixu, an official with the Shaanxi Provincial Department of Agriculture, said, ‘It’s a major breakthrough and surely benefits farmers. But it’s difficult to popularize the practice any time soon, given the huge investment and complicated technology involved.’