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ICT Technology Drives Modernisation of Farming in China

There should be no doubt about rural affairs being a top priority for China. To date, the country’s development plans in farming include progress in deploying what the best Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can offer — with computers and machinery working hand in hand to increase productivity.

Looking at the marked decrease of human capital in the fields is telling. The crops in many parts of the country are mostly grown by machines, with the help of just a few humans. Leading the way in this ICT-encouraged agriculture is one farm in Chongming, Shanghai. It is one of the earliest to apply intelligent mechanised farming.

The farm’s manager is quick to describe how much harnessing technology has changed the agricultural landscape. He disclosed that his farm has been pivoting into ICT technology for some time now. Specifically, they have applied intelligent technology for about two years, working via apps and computers.

Indeed, a lot of farm work can be done by machines. Fertilisation, ploughing, and sowing are just some of the examples of work that can be handled by technology. The Chongming farm manager is happy to reveal they are now about 75% mechanised and aiming to exceed 80%.

The good news is that machines can do tedious tasks. For instance, the crop is given just the right amount of water at the optimal temperature and humidity via the technology. More importantly, computers control the growing conditions.

It’s giving the farm a lot of breaks. Traditionally, it would take at least 30 people to manage a 200,000 square meter greenhouse. But with this automated smart greenhouse, half that number of people are required, the farm manager disclosed. Over time, he’s positive the number is expected to be even lower.

Still, there are challenges ahead. As much as technology can cut corners, there are still limits to it. There are still things that the machines can’t do that people have to fill in. He is talking about aspects that only humans can do. He details the entire process only requires labour for the last part – picking. The rest can be mechanised. That’s because there’s a variety of vegetables, the shape and eatable part. Certainly, that part is hard for a machine to deal with.

Smart Farming represents the application of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into agriculture, leading to what can be called the Third Green Revolution. Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, this Third Green Revolution is taking over the agricultural world based upon the combined application of ICT solutions such as:

  • Precision equipment
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Geo-Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • Big Data
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, drones)
  • Robotics

Smart Farming Technology (SFT) is bound to give dramatic results in farming not only in terms of output but also in terms of farming efficiency. So, it allows better harvests with less human work. This development speaks volumes on China. Its aggressive digital transformation is bearing fruit.

The world has seen what ICT can do in the area of spectator sports. The recent Beijing Paralympics 2022 attests to that, as reported on OpenGov Asia. There are other developments taking place in China today when it comes to its digital adoption. Just recently, it fielded a pilot run of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). All these are in line with the central theme in China’s recent “Two Sessions”, an annual meet of its top political and economic leaders.


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