This year, 1.8 million mu (120,000 hectares) of cotton was planted in Kuqa county of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, of which 1.2 million mu was machine-picked, elevating the mechanization rate to nearly 70%.
Wang Wenlong is a cotton farmer from a village in Kuqa county. This year, only three cotton pickers were required to harvest all the produce on his 2,000-mu field. With each machine picking 500-mu-field of cotton a day, the whole harvesting period was cut by over a month compared with manual labor.
"It's not easy to hire picking workers, and the labor cost is high. Machine-harvesting can save me a total of 200,000 yuan," said Wang.
In recent years, Kuqa county has been vigorously promoting machine picking of cotton. The agricultural machinery purchase subsidies were increased to encourage farmers and agricultural machinery cooperatives to invest in cotton pickers, which has further modernized the agriculture there.
Meanwhile, the county has also enhanced technical and safety training for machine operators. Agricultural machinery technicians are sent to the fields to provide guidance and handle any possible mechanical faults to ensure safe production.
Early this year, the county and nearby farmers signed a contract with an agricultural machinery cooperative in Yaha Town. "In spring, we used seeders to sow the cotton seeds in 30,000 mu of ground for the farmers. Now, machines can again be applied for the harvest," said Awut, the cooperative head. "With seven pickers working together, the 30,000 mu fields of cotton can all be harvested in 40 days."
The machine application has spared the growers from worries about labor shortage and has reduced the labor costs; thus, farmers in Xinjiang have seen their income rise and the local cotton industry grow further.