Across China: Inner Mongolia herders go hi-tech
HOHHOT, April 9 (Xinhua) -- One of Pan Duojun's camels is about to give birth these days, but the herder is not worried at all, for he can easily locate the camel after its delivery with the navigation device it wears.
"In the past, it was hard to discover the whereabouts of the camels in time. I had to climb up a sand dune and look through my telescope," said Pan, in Alxa Left Banner, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
"Now I just sit at home, tracing the camels' footprints with my cell phone," he said. "I will follow the navigation if I want to get them." In the past, he would ride his motorcycle searching for the animals.
The navigation system Pan uses is a domestically developed intelligent grazing equipment.
Unimunke, a livestock engineer with the livestock breed improvement station of Alxa Left Banner, said the navigation system combines the GPS and mobile network technologies, which enables herders to monitor their cattle from a distance.
The vast Gobi desert in Alxa is a "paradise" for camels, while local herders keep all kinds of livestock including sheep and cows. The intelligent grazing equipment has made their life much easier.
By the sink where the animals drink, Pan introduced to reporters the infrared sensor water supply machine.
When a person or animal stands two to eight meters from the tank, the infrared probe can sense it, and the pump automatically pumps out the groundwater to the tank, he said.
The equipment will automatically cut off the power to stop pumping when the sensor is interrupted for one to five minutes.
In addition to automatic pumping, the equipment can also control the water level in the tank. When the water level drops to the lower limit, the pump automatically pumps water. When the water level reaches the upper limit, the pumping will stop automatically.
"We don't need to worry about overflowing, or livestock coming without water," Pan said.
Pan also installed internet surveillance cameras near the wells, so he can watch from his cell phone or computer at home whether his livestock have drunk water or not and whether there is enough water.
"We used to pump water for the camels at regular intervals, but now we use the smart water systems instead. When working in the fields or going out on business, we don't have to worry about the camels not getting water."
In the banner, more than 100 herdsmen are using intelligent grazing and water supply equipment, said Unimunke. A whole set of equipment costs 1,200 yuan (178.7 U. S. dollars).
Over 20 tech companies in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are developing intelligent grazing systems.
Intelligent equipment can help herders reduce their working hours by an average of more than 50 percent, and help each household save at least 5,000 yuan per year in grazing costs, with more than 2,000 yuan saved on fuel for motorcycles.