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"Science and technology" in smart jujube orchards in Xinjiang

In May, the villages and the fields of Makit County are bustling with jujube farmers. However, a jujube orchard in Hamankoydi Village, Yangtak Township, Makit County, differs with only a few jujube farmers busy in the 500-acre orchard and a go-kart-sized orchard management machine shuttling between rows of jujube trees.

On April 14, 2023, technicians use an orchard management machine to spray jujube trees for pest control in a smart jujube orchard in Hamankoydi Village, Yangtak Township, Makit County, northwest China’s Xinjiang. Photo by Xinjiang Daily/Ran Hu

"Thanks to technology, the red dates in this jujube orchard are sugary and the yield is high," said a date farmer Anwar Yasen proudly while being busy in the jujube orchard, "This is the smart jujube orchard demonstration base of our county. ”

Walking into a small bungalow in the orchard, one could know at a glance what makes this orchard different. A large electronic screen displays real-time monitoring data on smart water and fertilizer management, pest targeted management, soil environment, etc., and technicians were using orchard management machines to spray jujube trees for pest control through remote control.

Li Tongxiang, who is in charge of the smart jujube orchard demonstration base in Makit County and the general manager of Xinjiang Tongtai Intelligent Science and Technology Co., Ltd., introduced that the smart jujube orchard features a three-dimensional management system based on artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and big data, covering intelligent irrigation (intelligent watering and fertilization integration) system, intelligent agricultural operation system, Internet of Things and monitoring system, as well as intelligent control cloud platform and big data platform.

"The orchard management machine operates under the intelligent agricultural operation system." Li Tongxiang said that through Beidou navigation, 5G signal transmission and accurate maps, under the command of the intelligent control cloud platform, the machine can plan its own path and carry out spraying and foliar fertilizer spraying operations as needed; It can also intelligently avoid obstacles and carry out transportation operations.

Field management is one of the most important processes in the red date planting process. "The introduction of smart jujube orchards can not only optimize field management, but also improve the planting efficiency of jujube farmers," Li Tongxiang said.

Yasen Ayup, a villager in Hamankoydi Village, has an 18-mu jujube orchard, which used to cost about 15,000 yuan a year for watering, fertilizing and spraying, but now it only costs about 8,000 yuan with the management technology of smart jujube orchards. "It is efficient and cuts cost, and its use of scientific methods to water helps improve the quality of red dates, which contributes to the rise of the selling price," Yasen Ayup said.

Li Tongxiang explained that the soil moisture monitoring equipment of the smart jujube orchard can monitor the temperature, humidity, pH value, conductivity, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content of the soil in real time, and when the relevant data is lower than the set figure, the system automatically sends out prompts and early warnings, urging the timely implementation of agricultural operations such as irrigation and fertilization.

Li Tongxiang said that the traditional method of large-scale flood irrigation requires about 200 cubic meters of water per mu of land, but now through intelligent irrigation management, only about 100 cubic meters of water is needed for per mu of land, saving about 50% of water. Precision fertilization and spraying can now reduce fertilizer and pesticide use by 30%.

In addition to soil moisture monitoring, smart jujube orchards can also achieve targeted pest control and microclimate monitoring.

"The targeted pest control equipment attracts adult insects to the equipment to kill them through spectral induction, and transmits the data to the smart big data platform of Makit County to statistically analyze the density of diseases and pests in the area and propose control plans." Li Tongxiang clarified that the microclimate monitoring equipment monitors the air temperature, humidity, wind power, wind direction, light and weather conditions in the jujube orchard to provide corresponding data for field management.

"The introduction of smart jujube orchards has greatly saved labor costs and reduced labor intensity." Li Tongxiang said that after calculation, through the remote control of the intelligent control cloud platform and the operation of intelligent command equipment, 6 manpower can be cut down per mu of land.

The smart jujube orchard has made the jujube farmers understand the importance of scientific management. "Quality trumps number." Ablat Amat, a villager in Hamankoydi Village, said with emotion that scientific management is essential for jujube trees to grow well and bear more fruit.

At present, through the teaching of technicians, nearly 200 farmers attended the training of the Makit smart jujube orchard, mastered the use of intelligent irrigation, intelligent agricultural operations, Internet of Things and other systems, and have become new technical agricultural talents.

Looking into the future, Li Tongxiang said, “The new agricultural management model of smart jujube orchards will greatly improve the efficiency of production management, free more jujube farmers from heavy physical labor and enable them to engage in the secondary and tertiary industries, and promote the transformation and upgrading of the red date industry in Makit County.

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