CHANGSHA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Thirty years ago, farmer Sun Xueyuan was exhausted even to manage one hectare of land a year. Now he is 65 and has an easy time handling 20 hectares.
Farming is a kind of heavy work, especially in places where farmers depended on weather conditions and their own hands for a good harvest. This is also what Sun, in Yiyang City, central China's Hunan Province, had done in past decades.
Pre-germinating rice seeds is the most time-consuming work of spring ploughing. Traditionally, farmers must soak the seeds and cover them with straw and quilt to keep them warm. But they also have to get up at night in case the temperature gets too high that the seeds get burnt.
"We can hardly sleep well during this period," Sun said.
But this year, Sun was able to sleep through every night, thanks to the help of modern technology.
"Someone else did it for us, and it did an even better job," he said.
All her seeds were sent to the nearby cooperative where pre-germination is done mechanically.
"Our seedlings nursery can maintain a stable temperature and humidity and effectively encourages growth of seeds," said Liu Chuangye, who operates the cooperative.
"Almost all farmers now send the seeds here for pre-germination; it's cost effective," Sun said.
In the nearby Xiejiapu Town, Kuang Yongli opened his WeChat and called for help to plough his 20 hectares of land. The next day, he had three rotocultivators running at full steam.
However, when Kuang became a farmer five years ago, he often spent days looking for help to plow the land as farming machinery was scarce at that time.
The local cooperative have since set up a WeChat group so that machinery experts, farmers and farm machinery providers can directly communicate with each other.
"Now we can reserve the machine in real time on WeChat, and each rotocultivator can farm almost three hectares every day," Kuang said. "The price is also very good, ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 yuan (237 to 285 U.S. dollars) per hectare."
According to Liu, modern technology has been applied in every stage of farming and is being widely accepted by local farmers.
In Huarong County of Hunan's Yueyang City, stay-at-home women are now taking time harvesting vegetables and transplanting rice seedlings. Labor shortages used to be a big headache during spring plowing and autumn harvesting, but these stay-at-home women have become a major force to tackle the problem.
About 50 local women have been mobilized to work in the fields in the busy seasons and more will join this year, according to Zhang An'de, one of the organizers.
"By working together and sharing resources, farming has become much more efficient and easier in recent years," said Lu Qingnian, a local farmer.