China Focus: The smartphone - China's latest farming tool

Updated: 2018-07-11

  NANCHANG, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Smart greenhouses with watering and fertilizing controlled via mobile phone are all the rage in east China's Jiangxi Province.

  In a demonstration greenhouse covering 5,000 square meters in the city of Yingtan, most work is done by a system of perforated plastic pipes combined with sensors to monitor temperature, air humidity, mineral content and water content of the soil.

  CLOUD ON THE HORIZON

  "Everything is controlled by a cellphone app," said Wei Yulong of developer Dongrui Industrial. "The system delivers water and fertilizer directly to the roots of the plants."

  The polythene that covers the greenhouse can also be adjusted according to the sunlight.

  This and another 200 agriculture projects are backed up by a provincial cloud platform. According to the Jiangxi provincial agricultural department, 59 out of 100 county-level cities are covered by the network, which also helps the local government monitor food safety and rural e-commerce development. More than 20,000 rural families are registered at the platform.

  The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs wants smart phone applications to be widely used in agriculture and has and set up demonstration bases to help farmers get familiar with the latest gizmos.

  Even in the most remote areas, technology is ubiquitous, with 96 percent of China's villages connected to the Internet. On average, each rural household has three mobile phones.

  "I can use my cell phone to monitor and control conditions in my greenhouse, orchards and fish ponds, from anywhere in the world," said Chen Yuping, general manager of Dongrui.

  In fish ponds, for example, the oxygen pump used to be controlled manually in accordance with temperature changes. Now? Just leave it to the app.

  With over a billion people connected to 4G networks in China, mobile Internet, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and big data have transformed farming. The sickle and hoe have been replaced by the smarphone and app as the country's emblematic farming tools.

  REMOTE PEST CONTROL

  In Ruichang, Jiangxi, a mobile app, synced with an insect light trap, monitors pests.

  "After trapping the insects, the mobile app identifies them and counts them. An analysis report is sent in every 30 minutes," said Fan Jingsong, head of the city's agricultural plant protection station.

  The application has revolutionized the station staff's work. Previously, they had to go into fields to study the pest situation, regardless of the weather. The work was tough and the accuracy low.

  Three Internet-linked pest monitoring systems have been set up in Ruichang, and three more will be built soon.

  "When all the facilities are ready, farmers can use their own mobile phones to check on pests in their farms," he said.

  Since 2015, training and competitions have been held to encourage farmers to get familiar with the latest farming apps.

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