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‘Chinese farmers should embrace precision farming’

Beijing, China: Most Chinese farmers face water scarcity and often damage the environment by using too much of nitrogen fertilisers. And, it was the hot topic during the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. To address this problem, BF Johnson, professor of political science, Wellesley College, and adjunct professor of public policy, Harvard Kennedy School, urged Chinese farmers to embrace precision farming technologies, such as drip irrigation and GPS guidance systems, that offer savings in the use of water and chemical inputs. Through a column, published in China Daily, the scholars explained that many big farms in the US use tractors that are equipped with GPS systems that “auto-steer” the equipment in perfectly straight lines. With differential correction signals, these systems can tell a machine exactly where it is in a field, down to 1 square meter. This in turn allows on-board computers to access GIS mapping data and instruct the machine to apply fertiliser or lime at differential rates, location by location. This eliminates both under-application that can hold down yields and over-application that wastes money and pollutes the environment. Chinese farmers can also use this technique of GPS enabled tractors and stop polluting their land with excessive use of nitrogen fertilisers. 
Johson further suggested that Chinese farmers facing water scarcity can use the precision technology to increase their farm’s yield. GPS positioning and sensing technologies allow farmers to save on water, by instructing machines to deliver water only where the seeds have been or will be planted, and in response to actual soil moisture conditions at the depth of the plant roots. Computerised drip irrigation systems are even more precise, and lasers are now used to level fields so as to eliminate irrigation water runoff.
The scholars claimed that with the use of this kind of technology total fertiliser use and total pesticide use both declined in American agriculture since the 1980s. Therefore, China can use these high-tech and low-tech solutions for a better farming experience. 
Source: China Daily