Self-driving electric harvesters point to future of China’s agriculture

14/02/2019

Shift to automation is key for the farming sector of the world’s second largest economy. “Super tractor I”, the first driverless electric tractor, start working in the field

 

Luoyang, central China’s Henan, “Super tractor I” is finally at work. It is China’s first all-electric automated far tractor. This brand new hi-tech tractor is equipped with self-driving system, smart control system and Internet of Things. According to experts is even smarter than most IA driven cars.

 

 

Shift to automation is key for the farming sector of the world’s second largest economy. Last year in June, a brand new combine harvester buzzes up and down a field in eastern China without a driver on board, chopping golden rice stalks and offering a clear example of what Beijing says is the automated future of the nation’s mammoth agricultural sector.

According to authorities, this shift to automation is vital to the farming sector in China as the country grapples with an ageing rural workforce and a dearth of young people willing to endure the hardships many associate with toiling on the land.

 

China is facing ageing rural workforce and a dearth of young people willing to endure the hardships many associate with toiling on the land. Is IA the solution?

 

But China is not facing alone this problem. Other Western countries countries like Australia and the United States are taking similar steps in the face of such demographic pressures, and asking to China to collaborate to invest together in hi-tech and automate agriculture.

“Automated farming is the way ahead and demand for it here is huge,” said tractor maker Changzhou Dongfeng CVT General Manager Cheng Yue, which provided an autonomous vehicle that was also used at the trial in the rice field in Xinghua last year, a county in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

 

Against the backdrop of the aging population, automated farming practices are seen as essential in ensuring food security when there are fewer young laborers in the countryside.

 

Some tech and agricultural firms are also betting on the pioneering business. Anhui State Farms Agribusiness Group is teaming with Anhui UnionTest Technology Co. to conduct similar tests on farms in Xiaogang Village, a major cradle of China’s rural reform, last autumn.

 

China has set a target of gradually building automated farms, utilizing smart technologies to improve quality and efficiency and also reduce costs.

 

“Automated farming could boost efficiency and output. We are also optimistic to see a decline in costs,” said Yu Shupeng, president of Anhui UnionTest. “Automated farming represents the future of agriculture,” stated at Xinhua Dang Guoying, an agricultural expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “I am very optimistic about its prospects, but it is vital to first expand the agricultural production scales and reduce the technology costs.”

 

China has set a target of gradually building automated farms, utilizing smart technologies to improve quality and efficiency and also reduce costs.

 

To try to achieve its ambitious goal, Beijing is supporting trials of local technology across the country organised by industry group Telematics Industry Application Alliance (TIAA). According to PRC based hi-tech firm, in the future China plans to conduct further farming experiments in Heilongjiang, Hebei and Chongqing areas.

However, the road to automation is long and littered with obstacles such as high costs, the nation’s varied terrain and the small size of many of its farms. “I have heard of driverless tractors. But I don’t think they are practical, especially the really large ones,” argued Li Guoyong at Xinhua, a wheat farmer in China’s northern Hebei province. Most farms in that area are only a few hectares in size, but nobody is able to stop this trend.

 

 

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