Melon farming a white-collar job | Shanghai Daily

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Melon farming a white-collar job

GROWING watermelons is a white-collar job that needs only a few clicks of the mouse for Wei Tian'en.

Most of the day he stays home in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, and tends the crops by using software installed on his computer, which allows him to monitor the humidity, temperature and other aspects of the greenhouse.

"It makes farming much easier," said Wei, 41, one of about 100 villagers in the suburbs of the provincial capital who have joined the "remote control your farm" project sponsored by Northwest China Agriculture and Forestry University.

For generations, the Wei family has made a living growing watermelons, at one time a demanding job for his father and grandfather.

"They used to spend nights in the greenhouse when the melons were about to bulge or mature, two critical stages that demanded timely watering, ventilation and constant temperatures," Wei said.

The big temperature difference between day and night used to be a major threat to fruit quality, he said.

After 20 years toiling in the fields, Wei no longer needs to spend 24 hours a day in the greenhouse thanks to the remote monitoring project.

Expert advice

The project, on trial since March in Yangling District, a high-tech agricultural zone in Xianyang City, 70 kilometers west of Xi'an, has equipped greenhouses with sensors and meteorological monitoring devices.

"It monitors temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed as well as exposure to sunlight," said Li Xin, a professor with Northwest China Agriculture and Forestry University. "If farmers have any doubts, they can send their data to the university and get expert advice."

He said the project was producing at least 10,000 kilograms of watermelons daily from 11 hectares of experimental crops. "They are sweeter and juicier, a result of the scientific farming process and use of organic fertilizer."

Wei said he expects "the best harvest ever" this year. "Fruit dealers have flocked to my farm since my first harvest, offering three times the average price," he said.

If the trial proves successful, Li and his colleagues plan to promote the project and help more farmers remote control crops, particularly peaches and apricots that promise higher profits.



 

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