At the turn of the new century, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps made great strides towards agricultural modernization with water-saving irrigation and new agricultural technology.
The water shortage has been a “bottleneck” constraining agricultural development in northwest China. By vigorously promoting new technologies, the Corps gradually replaced ditch irrigation with spray irrigation and micro-irrigation (including drip irrigation and bubbling spring irrigation). By the end of this year, it facilitated a total of 1.646 million mu of farmland by spray and micro-irrigation – an increase of 49%. The new method of irrigation has clearly shown higher efficiency in water-savings and production growth. Drip irrigation under plastic film technology is especially popular across the country. A group from the China Hydraulic Institute of Micro-irrigation has done research in Shihezi Reclamation Zone, the country’s largest area which applies drip irrigation under plastic film technology to a total of 110,000 mu of land. During the 10th Five-Year Plan period, the Corps will focus on a project to apply new water-saving irrigation method to an area of four million mu. Spray and micro-irrigation methods will be applied to 5.5 million mu of land, saving more than 900 million cubic meters of water each year. The area will become a large, water-saving agricultural demonstration zone.
In recent years, the Corps has vigorously developed and promoted precision agricultural technology. It developed new species by using modern biological engineering technology, such as genetic cross-breeding; and updated all the major species it grows. As a result, 90% of land was utilized for excellent species, and output increased. In the near future, the Corps will further enhance agricultural modernization; set up 20 precision agricultural technology demonstration regiments; and implement demonstration projects for precision agricultural technology, so as to raise the agricultural mechanization rate to over 92%.
Corps Commander Zhang Qingli told reporters that “by realizing agricultural modernization, we can improve the comprehensive quality and output of arable land, and convert cropland to forest in a planned way.” So far, the Corps has launched the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program on six pilot farms, including the No. 34 and No. 35 farms in the lower reaches of the Tarim River, the No. 166 and No. 168 farms of the Agricultural No.9 Division, the No. 181 farm of the Agricultural No.10 Division, and the Huangtian farm. It plans to convert a total of 250,000 mu of cropland into forest this year; and will implement the program in the 10th Five-Year Plan period.