Smart farming blooms on Chengdu plain

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On a morning in Chongzhou, Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province, Wang Lingli opened an app on her phone. Seeing that the temperature was 14°C with no rain expected for the next two hours, she grabbed her drone and headed out the door.

As a professional agricultural manager, Wang leads a team of 13 who utilize smart farming software to manage 7,000 mu (around 467 hectares) of farmland of four cooperatives.

“Our top priority right now is to apply pesticide to prevent pests and diseases,” said Wang, as she skillfully piloted the drone to release an even mist of pesticide over the fields.

The fickle spring weather on the Chengdu plain makes precision farming crucial. “If a sudden rain comes before the pesticides are absorbed, they get washed away, which is a waste of resources and harms the soil,” Wang explained. 

The app Wang uses can provide accurate weather forecast fore the next two hours, thus she can arrange her work accordingly.

Taking a break, Wang shared the benefits of agricultural informatization with People’s Daily: “My phone manages every aspect of farming.” 

Through remote sensing technology, Wang can view soil moisture levels and crop growth conditions right on her phone, giving her a “diagnostic report” to guide field management. Besides, agricultural experts provides her with online consultations and on-site support, serving as an ever-present “brain trust”. The app also connects directly to supply and sales platforms, maximizing income while reducing costs.

Without pausing, Wang hurried to a smart seedling center. “Rice seedling cultivation begins in early April. In May, it’s the wheat harvest. Then we prepare the fields, fertilize, and transplant the seedlings – the schedule is fully packed,” Wang said.

The center, which is operated by the cooperative that Wang works for, has six zones including a seeding production line, nutrient soil storage, and a sprouting room. Some of the seedling equipment were already being tested and calibrated. 

“My phone is connected to the center’s control system, so that I can check real-time seedling data,” said Wang. Compared to traditional manual methods, the smart system significantly improves the survival rate and quality of seedling, she added.

As cultivation scales up and technologies advance, Wang is also integrating modern corporate management practices into the cooperative to boost incomes for member farmers. Last year, the fields managed by her team yielded a total of 6,000 tons of wheat and rice – nearly 25 kilograms higher per mu than non-member farmers.

Wang’s career was inspired by her father, Wang Zhiquan, one of Chengdu’s first professional agricultural managers. It was under her father’s encouragement that she returned home and joined the cooperative after graduating from university in 2015.

Initially, having grown accustomed to traditional farming methods, Wang Zhiquan was reluctant to leave his “comfort zone.” When Wang Lingli proposed buying a rice transplanter to replace manual labor, he objected. So, the two divided a field to test the approaches. Ultimately, the machine’s efficiency proved superior, boosting Wang Zhiquan’s confidence in modern agricultural technologies.

These days, Wang Zhiquan often “peeks” at his daughter’s phone, which displays the rice transplanter’s BeiDou navigation paths and planting densities in vivid detail. Recalling his stubborn resistance years ago, he admitted, “You have to trust the vision of the younger generation.”

As new seedlings sprout, technologies are “sown.” Today, 90 percent of agricultural production in Chongzhou has been informatized.



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