Precision agriculture research collaboration aims to help Chinese smallholder farmers

China’s North Plain is one of the country’s most important – and densely populated – agricultural regions, producing crops such as corn, cereals, vegetables and cotton. A research project led by the James Hutton Institute and China Agriculture University aims to support smallholder farmers in the area through precision agriculture techniques.

The initiative, funded by the Agri-Tech in China Newton Network + (ACTNN+), seeks to test a decision support system in Xushui village (Hebei province, North China) which would help farmers determine the quantity of nitrogen-based fertilisers to be applied to their soils, in a drive to avoid fertiliser runoff pollution.

Project co-ordinator Dr Davide Cammarano, from the James Hutton Institute’s Information and Computational Sciences group, said: “Management zone delineation and decision support systems are very important issues for small-scale farmers, not just in China but across the world.

“In this case, our proposed decision support system is targeted to the advisors which support the farmers on site-specific management. It has been conceptualised to work with minimal data input, to ensure it can be broadly applicable.

“The project will suggest a novel approach to existing research from China Agricultural University.”

The initiative is scheduled to run until July 2018. It is one of four projects funded via the ACTNN+ Newton Fund, which sees a growing network of universities, research and development institutions, companies and others working together.

Besides the James Hutton Institute and China Agriculture University, project partners include RSK ADAS Ltd; Rothamsted Research; Courtyard Agriculture; Hebei Agricultural University and Henan Agricultural University.

Article source/image credit: James Hutton Institute