Drip irrigation area reaches 1.5 million mu, saving 180 million cubic meters of water every year
In the northwest, characterized by long-term drought, many lakes are shrinking year by year. However, Manas Lake, in the Xinjiang Shihezi Reclamation Area, has been expanding at a rate of five square kilometers annually, for five consecutive years. This miracle occurred as a result of large scale water-saving irrigation in the reclamation area. It is learned that, as of now, the Agricultural No. 8 Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps has rolled out this drip irrigation technology on 1.5 million mu of farmland in its reclamation area; saving 180 million cubic meters of water every year; and leading the world in large-scale drip irrigation technology.
The Agricultural No. 8 Division is located at the southern margin of the Gurbantonggute Desert – a typically arid region. After the liberation, with the expansion of production scale and the growth of the population in the irrigation area, shortage of water resources has become a “bottleneck” of socio-economic development. How do they get out of the “bottleneck”? Corps members called to mind water conservation.
Originating in Israel, drip irrigation technology is one of the world’s most advanced technologies in water-saving irrigation. The Agricultural No. 8 Division introduced this technology to the local area and developed drip irrigation technology covered in plastic film. The technology focuses on watering plants rather than on watering land; and prevents surface water loss through deep percolation. Combined with film coverage, it can greatly reduce evaporation. The average consumption of water only accounts for 1/8 of that from traditional irrigation methods.
The technology of drip irrigation under plastic film not only substantially improved the efficiency of water use, but also sparked changes in agricultural production methods. People do not need to build channels in the field; thereby saving 5-7% of farmland. By using valve controls, each person can care for a larger area of land. Meanwhile, drip irrigation under plastic film can keep the soil loose and reduce weeds; which will also substantially reduce the number of rows cultivated. By using drip irrigation technology, the salinity of the soil can be adequately effused – a method that helps improve the environment for crop growth. The resistance of crops to damage in case of severe weather conditions or a natural disaster has been greatly enhanced. Last year, the Agricultural No. 8 Division used drip irrigation under plastic film on 1.3 million mu of its 1.7 million cotton field. The gross cotton output exceeded four million dan (1 dan=50 kilograms), with a record breaking average yield of 300 kilograms per mu. This type of irrigation also increased average cotton yields by 50 kilograms per mu – an increase of 200 yuan in value.
Thanks to the decreasing water consumption from field irrigation, there is a surplus of surface water. Manas Lake is important for regulation in the lower reaches of the Manas River. In the early 1970s, the lake was completely dry. In recent years, it has been growing. Now its area has exceeded 123 square kilometers.