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China's BeiDou navigation system adopted in unmanned farming in Zhejiang
China’s BeiDou navigation system adopted in unmanned farming in Zhejiang
Published: Aug 12, 2020 01:58 PM
 

A farmer stands on an unmanned farm machine operating in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province. Photo: Courtesy of the Ningbo authority



Ningbo in East China's Zhejiang Province has introduced an unmanned rice planter that comes equipped with a BeiDou navigation-assisted driving system, the Ningbo authorities told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The machine supports a full set of unmanned operations such as automatic rice planting, intelligent obstacle avoidance, and U-turning using the Beidou positioning system in combination with Internet of Things technology. 

It can also realize intelligent data analysis and accurately control row spacing and seedling distance, limiting operating errors to within 2.5 cm.

The traditional high-speed rice planter requires two employees to complete the seedling process, with one person driving while the other plants. Only one person needs to place the seedlings, however, when the unmanned machine is used, improving overall efficiency and productivity while also saving costs.

"It had previously cost around 400 yuan ($57.5) to hire one farmer to plant the seedlings in a field of 0.067 hectares in two days, but now it only takes approximately 20 minutes by unmanned machines," Qiu Jiebo, the owner of the machine, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that he plans to operate a leasing business with a fee of around 120 yuan for planting 0.067 hectares.

Qiu said that rising labor costs and fewer people willing to do the job are two major reasons why unmanned planting machines are needed.

The machine is sold for around 50,000 yuan, Qiu said, noting that he only spent around 30,000 yuan to purchase the unmanned planting machine as the rest of the cost was subsidized by the local government.

The unmanned planting machines will continue to be promoted in the city to further enhance planting quality and efficiency, an official from the Ningbo agricultural authorities told the Global Times on Wednesday.

This is not the first time that BeiDou navigation technology has been employed in unmanned farming machines. The technology has been adopted in over 10,000 unmanned farm tractors and spraying drones in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the regional agriculture and husbandry machinery administration said in July.


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