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Big data technology empowers spring ploughing in southwest China

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2023-03-15

GUIYANG -- "Soil temperature too high in Greenhouse No. 1," "Soil pH value abnormal in Greenhouse No. 5" -- these were some of the warnings flashing on a management platform at a smart farm in Zunyi City, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

"The big data system issued the warnings after analyzing the humidity, temperature and other data related to the soil in the greenhouses," said Xu Wei, head of the farm. "We then respond by taking immediate prevention and control measures to avoid having to use pesticides afterwards."

With no pesticides used in planting, Xu's strawberries taste better and can sell at a staggering price of 1,200 yuan (about 173 U.S. dollars) per kg.

Xu had worked for an internet company for 10 years before switching to smart farming. Two years ago, he developed a big data system with his team members, which records and analyzes humidity, temperature, lighting, and pest conditions in greenhouses through sensors.

Thanks to the system, he can now grasp the situation in the greenhouses via the monitoring screen in his office, before taking necessary preventive measures in the field.

March is the month for spring ploughing. In many parts of Guizhou, big data technology is increasingly being applied in agriculture, as local authorities have made efforts in recent years to promote the integration of these two fields.

As the country's first national big data comprehensive pilot zone, Guizhou has been promoting the big data industry as a mainstay of its high-quality social and economic development.

This year, Guizhou will invest 20 billion yuan in big data related projects and its digital economy is expected to account for around 40 percent of its GDP.

The use of big data technology in Guizhou has gradually changed the traditional mode of agriculture, which relied solely on farmers' experience and weather conditions, and this change is providing local farm produce with a competitive edge in the market.

In Kaiyang County in Guizhou, a large vegetable breeding center was put into operation last March to apply the latest big data and smart technologies to agriculture. It consists of three greenhouses and one workshop, covering a total area of about 25,000 square meters.

Following a year of operation, the center has raised 21 million seedlings and generated an output value of about 15 million yuan.

In one greenhouse, workers only need to put the seedling tray on the seedbed, after which the intelligent cultivation system will automatically move the tray to the correct position based on preset data. This system greatly improves the efficiency of raising seedlings and reduces labor costs.

An automatic control system will also adjust the circulating fan, wet curtain and sunshade net according to the real-time temperature and humidity in the greenhouse to provide a suitable environment for seedlings, said Li Shili, an executive of the farming company that runs the center.

"The system has enabled us to cut the period of cultivating solanaceous seedlings by five to 15 days, compared with traditional methods," said Li.