Across China: New tech assists cotton farming in Xinjiang
URUMQI, April 21 (Xinhua) -- After spring sowing, cotton farmers in Shawan City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, are busy laying mulching film in the fields.
"Last year's trial of mulch farming achieved significant benefits in keeping higher soil temperatures for cotton growing, controlling weeds and conserving soil moisture. The cotton yield increased by 30 to 50 kg per mu (about 0.07 hectares)," said Han Bo, head of an agricultural machinery cooperative in Shawan.
Local authorities in the cotton-producing area in the Tianshan Mountains have been promoting farming techniques that conserve water through the use of mulching film.
Han said they now used mulching film 4.4 meters in width to cover 12 rows of cotton seeds, instead of the past common use of film 2.05 meters in width to cover 6 rows.
The new plastic film 0.013 mm in thickness has a recovery rate of over 90 percent, which is a more environmentally friendly way of limiting "white pollution," Han said.
According to monitoring by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, modern agricultural machinery is widely used in cotton farming in Xinjiang.
To the north of the Tianshan Mountains, agricultural machinery is used in major cotton-producing areas such as the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bortala, Huyanghe City, Shawan City and Shihezi City.
Meanwhile, in the west and north of the Tarim Basin to the south of the mountains, agricultural mechanization is also gaining momentum.
"Thanks to the application of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, my workload is much lighter than in previous years," said Remtla Tokhtniaz, a machinery operator in Tuanjie Village, Bagawat Township of Shache County in southern Xinjiang.
"It used to take six days to sow 500 mu of land, but now with the satellite navigation system to assist in driving, we can finish sowing and laying mulching film and drip irrigation in just three days," he noted.
According to the Xinjiang regional department of agriculture and rural affairs, the plowing and sowing of Xinjiang cotton is entirely mechanized, and the mechanized cotton harvesting rate has exceeded 80 percent.
A total of 61 counties and cities as well as 110 groups of production and construction corps plant cotton in Xinjiang, where nearly half of the local farmers are engaged in cotton production.
Cotton growing accounts for 30 percent of the net income of farmers in Xinjiang, China's largest cotton-producing area, which is expected to sow about 37 million mu of cotton by the end of April.