Farms incorporate big data to grow produce and raise livestock, leading to better food safety.
In Guiyang, Guizhou province, a hub for big data development in China, even a kiwi fruit "knows" what digital life means.
At the kiwi technology garden in Guiyang's Xiuwen county, a big screen shows real-time images of kiwi orchards in 10 villages or towns, as well as updates on the temperature, humidity, rainfalls, plant diseases and insects.
Each orchard has a special page recording its basic information such as the planting area, the number of trees, the average age of trees, annual harvest, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides, according to Jin Yi, who is in charge of the e-commerce department of Xiuwen Guotou Group.
The platform also draws graphics based on annual sales statistics and conducts data analyses.
"From the results, we know the taste and sugar degree demand of customers in different cities. For example, the northern markets prefer sweeter kiwis than southern ones, which can help us sell in a more scientific and precise way," Jin said.
In addition, each kiwi is given an "identification card", so that customers can scan the QR code to learn about the orchard, use of fertilizers, picking time and sales regions, to realize traceable information to secure food quality.
Kiwi fruit in Xiuwen is given the nickname "seven is not enough", which means, "You will not be satisfied even though you have eaten seven kiwis at a time". "Seven" sounds like "eat" in the local dialect.
From planting, growing and selling to after-sales services, big data is adopted in the whole industrial chain of the kiwi fruits, setting a good example of the modern, intelligent agriculture.
In recent years, Guiyang has combined big data with agriculture to reduce human labor, expand production scales, improve market competitions and infuse vitality into traditional agriculture, experts said.
At a vegetable greenhouse in Kaiyang county, a worker changes the environmental conditions just by operating an application.
"A few months ago, it beeped at night. We could not get to the greenhouses on time so we closed the awnings through the app to protect the vegetables. It's much more convenient now," said Cen Cong, a worker at the base.
The app, developed by Guiyang Agricultural Investment Group, was put into operation in late 2022 to manage more than 10 vegetable plantations in Guiyang. Temperature, humidity, sunlight and other elements in the greenhouses can be controlled remotely.
Cen added that the real-time conditions of the greenhouses would be updated so that the company can better formulate planting strategies. In the future, the plantations of the company will use this app to improve production efficiency and realize fine management. Another app is used to assign tasks to farm workers of the company.
The group focuses on the cultivation of peppers, strawberries and morels as well as raising pigs, sturgeons and perches.
Besides the app, a major vegetable seedling and breeding center in the county has adopted advanced technologies in the whole process – automatic seed sowing, intelligent pre-germination, automatic irrigation systems and a grafting production line – making it the most advanced seedling center in the province.
"The industrialized seedling production, compared with traditional methods, has obvious advantages. It saves human labor, cuts the growth period by five to 10 days and reduces the use of fertilizers and pesticides," said Chen Fucai, technical director of Guizhou Modern Seed Industry Group Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Guiyang Agricultural Investment Group. "Two or three workers can manage a 4,000-square-meter seedling region."
The center mainly deals with pepper, tomato, kale, broccoli and eggplant seedlings. It's expected to produce about 85 million seedlings annually.
Intelligent agriculture has also expanded in animal husbandry.
Wan Kaichun, a broiler chicken breeder in Xifeng county, checks the condition of his chick house through a television or telephone with an app. He gets an alert if anything, such as the temperature, is abnormal. With devices and conveyor belts, he can feed the chickens quickly and precisely.
Wan said he can manage the family's 20,000 chickens all by himself with the help of the platform.
A series of digital and intelligent products being used in the agricultural field have promoted the modernization and rural vitalization of Guiyang.
By collecting and analyzing massive data, the growth conditions of crops and livestock can be acquired, so that better planting and raising methods can be offered, not only to improve production and quality on the supply end, but also to provide safer food on the market end.
As Guiyang is working to build a national food safety demonstration city, big data is adopted in food production, processing, circulation and consumption to realize the whole-chain traceable monitoring.
At the Guiyang agricultural products logistics park, fresh foods are given a QR code that contains all the information customers may want to know.
"We will record the time when the product enters the park, its place of origin, certificates, inspection and when and where it leaves the park, and report to the commerce and market supervision departments," said Li Qingqing, the park's business planning manager.
At the Xinlukou farmer's market in Nanming district, a big screen shows pesticide residue inspection data. Customers can check a machine to obtain information about the traders and food. Similar screens can be found at some snack streets to answer any worries about street food safety.
The Guiyang campus intelligent catering governance platform records surveillance video images from the kitchens of more than 1,000 schools for authorities and parents.
The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasized the promotion of rural vitalization and the construction of a strong agricultural country. It also mentioned enhancing support for agricultural technologies and equipment.
Jiang Hao, a global partner of consultancy Roland Berger, said digitalization plays an important part in improving agricultural production and management efficiency. It helps better predict the market, balance supply and demand, and ensure the stability of production despite the influence of nature.
"Agriculture has become a high-tech industry. Digital tools decrease costs and improve production and quality, so that farmers can have higher incomes and customers enjoy safer food," he said.
Nie Fengying, a researcher at the Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said digital tools play an important role in rural industrial development and business model reforms.
"Introducing the digital technology to the whole process of agriculture helps promote the supply-side structural reform and change production-oriented methods to quality-oriented ones," Nie said.
She added that digitalization makes agriculture greener and more low-carbon, helping build an ecologically friendly rural environment. Additionally, making decisions and innovations based on data can improve rural governance effectiveness.