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August 3, 2023  China Daily  

Modern Machines Help to Dispel Harvest Doubts

Case Study;Food system;Wheat Output;Shanxi;Farming Machine

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For wheat farmers in Shanxi province, the period from late May to late June is the busiest time and one of anxiety as uncertainties can happen even when a good harvest looks set.


This is especially true this year, which has featured a string of setbacks. These included a drastic temperature drop during winter sowing, frequent cold fronts in spring and higher-than-usual rainfall during the grain filling stage in May.


But the biggest challenge lies in harvesting, according to local farmers and agricultural officials.


"During this critical period for harvesting, weather and efficiency are crucial," said an official at the Shanxi Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.


The province became rainy in late May, a time when wheat turns mature and is ready for harvest. Due to the weather, great efficiency is needed during harvesting to prevent the grains from going moldy or germinating, according to the official.


Despite the adverse weather, the official said wheat output in Shanxi is expected to have a slight increase compared with 2022.While the department is still calculating on the total output based on data sent from different regions in Shanxi, it has received reports of high per-unit yields.


A farm in Dongguan village in Yicheng county, for instance, reported a per-hectare output of 12,390 kilograms, a record for wheat farming in Shanxi.


The official said that farming modernization, especially the extensive use of farming machines, has played a crucial role in improving efficiency and stabilizing output.


According to statistics collected by the department, Shanxi has mobilized more than 351,000 machines for summer farming. Harvesting machines, including combine harvesters, were used to reap more than 540,900 hectares of wheat in Shanxi, with a mechanized harvesting ratio reaching 99.4 percent.


In the summer corn-sowing season that followed, machines were used on about 344,600 hectares of farms, which make up 99.9 percent of the province's total corn-planting area.


In Shanxi, farming activities are becoming more modernized thanks to the use of various machines and smart technologies, which has helped to improve efficiency substantially.


However, the efforts of farmers are by no means reduced with the help of machines, which call for complicated skills to operate them, according to Ci Haijun, a farming machine operator in Dongdaqi village, Jiexiu county.


"Fortunately, agricultural officials in Shanxi are fully aware of this situation," Ci said. "They are addressing the problem by offering training to farmers, helping us master skills relating to operation and maintenance."


Ci was the champion of a recent contest for operating harvesting machines. The event was held at various harvesting sites, with experts assessing the efficiency of machine operators.



Wheat grain is loaded onto a truck near a farm in Shanxi after being reaped by combine harvesters.


"I won the first place for a grain loss rate of 0.109 percent during harvesting. This is the lowest among all contesters provincewide," Ci said. The average rate was 0.78 percent among contenders.


Organizers said the contest is part of a provincial campaign to improve machine-operating skills. The winners will be hired as trainers for other farmers so best practices can be promoted.






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