Shouguang spearheads novel way to grow vegetables

(| Updated : 2023-11-21

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Shouguang, a city in East China's Shandong province that is also known as the "Hometown of Vegetables in China", has been leading the development of agricultural modernization when it comes to the cultivation of vegetables.

The city's development of agricultural modernization has been characterized by the use of advanced agricultural facilities and cutting-edge vegetable planting technologies.

At the Xiangtian Agricultural Technology Co in Jitai town, green leafy vegetables such as cabbages and celery are cultivated in containers that have been transformed into mobile plant factories that have intelligent controls for water, temperature, light, nutrients, carbon dioxide and other conditions.

Each mobile plant factory can accommodate 5,000 leafy vegetables, which is equivalent to the output of 2 mu of land (about 0.13 hectares), according to Liu Pengpeng from Xiangtian Agricultural Technology Co.

Liu said that the purpose of rolling out such mobile plant factories was to meet food demands in remote areas, where the installation of conventional greenhouses are not feasible due to the harsh weather conditions.

To manage the newly built vegetable park, Xiangtian Agricultural Technology Co had in 2017 developed a smart agricultural IoT management platform that enables the fully automatic and remote management of temperature and humidity, light intensity, irrigation and fertilization, rain and snow prevention and other operations in the vegetable park.

In addition to software systems, the company has in recent years also made efforts in water and fertilizer integrated irrigation and other equipment. These technological innovations have since laid a good foundation for the company to develop mobile plant factories, Liu said.

The interior of the mobile plant factory is divided into two parts: the control room and the planting room. The screen in the control room displays real-time data for temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide concentration, light, and nutrient solution. The control system is used to operate the fill lights, fresh air systems, automatic fertilizer supplements, and automatic irrigation through sensors.

The planting room is divided into two rows, each of which has three layers of plants. The vegetables are planted in plug trays, and the nutrients required for growth are provided through nutrient solutions.

Liu said that the mobile plant factory is able to produce vegetables all year round, thus reducing the reliance on conventional sources. At the same time, the factory's portable nature means it can function in remote areas, mines, deserts and a variety of other locations.