HEFEI, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Holding a remote control, Gong Ming, a farmer in eastern China's Anhui Province, skillfully operated three drones to spray herbicides on 100 hectares of winter wheat.
"Each drone carries 20 kg of herbicides and can spray over half a hectare of a field in 10 minutes," said Gong, adding that it used to take them a whole day to manually spray 1.33 hectares of farmland.
It is now the golden time for spring plowing and sowing in China. While villagers are confined at home to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak, modern machines have come to the fore, mitigating the shortage of labor during the farming season to secure a bumper harvest.
Zhao Jinbao, 56, runs a machinery cooperative in Huoqiu County, which offers mechanized services to local farmers with 50 agricultural drones and 28 rice transplanters.
"We have disinfected the village with five drones, and four other drones have helped farmers spray herbicides on 386 hectares of wheat," said Zhao, who plans to rent more land this year.
According to the provincial agricultural and rural affairs department, a total of 1.4 million agricultural machineries will be put into use for this year's spring farming, which includes 450,000 fertilizing and sowing planters and about 4,000 drones.
Besides modern technology, online services are also lending a hand to farmers during this special period.
Lovol Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., a major agricultural machinery enterprise in China, has cooperated with several companies to offer free online services for farmers, allowing them to get timely suggestions and information on planting and online financing.
In Ningyang County, eastern China's Shandong Province, more than one million farmers can purchase agricultural materials and select agricultural machines online.
Agricultural experts also go online to instruct local farmers on how to take care of their land. Over 10 WeChat groups have been set up in Zanhuang County, northern China's Hebei Province to solve farmers' problems in agricultural production, animal raising and orchard management.
At the same time, Chinese farmers are also working on improving the quality of produce.
"I will further expand the plantation of high-quality rice strain from 14 hectares to 26.7 hectares this year, as the price of the new rice variety is more than twice that of the old one," said Chen Xiangsheng, head of a cooperative in Shou County, Anhui Province.
"Modern agriculture is bound to have higher production efficiency and better management and products," said An Yufa, a professor with China Agricultural University. "The upgrading in agriculture will help Chinese farmers gradually get rid of the old way of relying on the weather for harvests and further accelerate the process of agricultural modernization in China."