Unmanned tractors are being used to automatically plan routes and farming procedures via China's home-grown BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, a recent Chinese documentary showed.
The documentary also shows pictures of farmers in East China's Shandong Province flying drones to apply fertilizers to crops.
Huihuang Zhongguo, meaning "a brilliant China," a new series of TV documentaries showcasing the latest achievements of all sectors in China, showed the great development of the country's precision agriculture and biotechnological farming in its fifth episode which was aired Saturday.
A total of 1.3 billion Chinese people consume more than 1.5 million tons of food every day, according to the documentary broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV) from last Tuesday to Sunday, just ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
The documentary added that China invests around 3 trillion yuan ( million) on developing modern agriculture each year.
Automatic tractors guided by the BDS system are now being used in more than 90 percent of the farmlands of Heilongjiang Province and in more than 60 percent of farmland in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said Zhang Ruifeng, head of the publicity department at the UniStrong Science and Technology Co, which is based in Beijing and offers satellite navigation and positioning services.
Precision is key
Automatic tractors guided by the BDS system, one of the best examples of China's precision agriculture development, have much better location accuracy than traditional tractors and are able to work constantly for 24 hours a day, Zhang told the Global Times.
Machines equipped with advanced technologies, such as the BDS unmanned tractors, could help save on land and fuel, and at the same time increase farming efficiency and grain outputs, said Zhang.
Farm owner Wang Hui from Bengbu, East China's Anhui Province, told the Global times that his farm has been using computers to monitor various grains' specific requirements for water and fertilizers, and is thus able to apply manure and water at specific times and in the required amounts.
"The advanced technology has helped me save more than 95 percent of water and fertilizers on my farm," said Wang Hui.
Beidacang, or "the north granary," which refers to an area of farmland covering 55,300 square kilometers in Heilongjiang Province, uses the BDS automatic tractors to produce more than 30 billion kilograms of grains each year, meeting the food demand for more than 100 million Chinese people, according to the CCTV documentary.
This high-tech agricultural equipment could also help reduce human labor costs, said Zhang.
A farmer surnamed Shen in Central China's Henan Province told the Global Times on Monday that a normal farmer's salary is at least 2,000 yuan (2) each month in addition to social insurance and housing subsidies in the countryside, and that farmers in the Beijing suburbs usually earn salaries of more than 4,000 yuan each month.
"Nowadays, human labor is too expensive, so everyone is using shared or second-hand modern equipment or high-tech machines," said Shen.
Biotechnology is also being applied more and more widely to crops and grains in China to boost their quality and quantity.
China's "Super Rice" has had an output of more than 0.6 trillion kilograms for four consecutive years, according to the CCTV documentary, adding that China is home to the largest number of research institutes on rice seed breeding in the world.
With the improvement of living standards, emphasis should be placed on both the quality and quantity of rice, as opposed to the past century, when focus was merely given to quantity so as to meet basic food demand, said Professor Yuan Longping, known as the "father of hybrid rice," said in the documentary.
The double cropping rice in Huanbei village, Xingning city of South China's Guangdong Province, which was developed by Yuan's research team, had an annual record-breaking output of 1,537.78 kilograms per mu (666.7 square meters) in 2016.
Mai Yilin, a farmer from Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, has grown rice for 10 years and has developed a new type of the grain that is of better quality than normal rice.
Mai told the Global Times on Monday that he uses advanced biotechnologies in the rice, which has a better quality in terms of PH value, microorganisms and amino acid.
"With the advanced technologies, the rice grown on my farm does not need any pesticide, which guarantees that the rice has no harmful chemical effects and stays pure and natural," said Mai.