Journey to space for Tushibao's rice seeds

Yang Yang
An agricultural cooperative in Songjiang is trying its hand at astronautics seed breeding.
Yang Yang

An agricultural cooperative in Songjiang is trying its hand at astronautics seed breeding as it promotes agriculture through advanced technologies including pesticide spreading by drone, organic fertilizer production and digital farmland monitoring.

The Tushibao agricultural cooperative had entrusted its 1,000 grains of rice seeds weighing 25 grams to a space breeding company in Beijing. The rice seeds were returned to the cooperative after their space travel.

The rice seeds, affected by the space environment, may have undergone some mutation impossible to be achieved on Earth.

“The specific environment in space, including cosmic rays, micro-gravity and fine vacuum, may cause genetic mutation of seeds. And with these seeds, we try to cultivate new variety of seeds,” said He Yangyang, chief of the cooperative.

“The mutations are on the molecular level. We have to sow the seeds, sort the second generation, then sow and sort again and again till at the third or fourth time we acquire the high-quality mutated seeds with stable genetic conditions.”

The cooperative is cooperating with the district’s agricultural technology promotion center to sow and sort the seeds.

“Not all the seeds that have experienced space travel achieve genetic mutations, and not all the genetic mutations are for the good. But I prefer to keep on raising agricultural products quality through every possible way. And space seed breeding is part of my agricultural dream,” said He.

In addition, Tushibao has achieved digital farmland monitoring upon its more than 500 mu (33.3 hectares) of farmland.

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