JINAN, April 1 (Xinhua) -- East China's Shandong Province, the country's leading grain and vegetable producer as well as a major wheat production base, has ushered in its spring sowing season with comprehensive farming preparations this year.
Affected by unusual floods last autumn, Shandong's routine winter wheat sowing schedule was delayed, and its wheat crops saw a record-high proportion of weak seedlings.
As late wheat sowing is one of the primary reasons for possible low yields, more precise agricultural management and seedling techniques are crucial for the province's spring farming this year.
Before the Spring Festival this year, Shandong had dispatched batches of agricultural experts to the farmland, a month earlier than the previous year, to help local farmers monitor and analyze the growth of crops and provide practical guidance.
"Thanks to the expert advice, I covered my wheat with mulching film beforehand and found them growing faster than those sown a month earlier," said Chang Shaobing, a farmer who owns about 11 hectares of wheat in Yanggu County of Liaocheng City.
Besides assigning technical experts, field management groups have also been formed in Liaocheng's Shenxian County, with each group member responsible for specific technical support and farming supervision of every single patch of land.
"A farmland of about 66 hectares is under my watch and I will keep an eye on the wheat crops here throughout the growth cycle," said Zhao Cheng, an official from Yutun Village, Liuqiao Township of Qihe County.
"Setting up such a comprehensive field management system means attaching greater importance to grain production and forming a powerful synergy through concerted efforts," said Sun Xiuwei, an official with the Qihe county government.
Shandong has also built a remote sensing application center, which adopts information technologies to better monitor crop growth, prevent and control pest and plant diseases as well as help formulate emergency plans for disaster prevention and mitigation.
In recent years, a wide range of new business models has emerged in the province's agriculture sector.
Novel public services like "crop hospitals" and agricultural service centers have mushroomed to facilitate product distribution channels and ensure timely delivery of production materials to local farmers.
Farm machinery, an indispensable part of spring plowing, has been paid greater attention. In Weifang City, 40,000 agricultural machines have undergone thorough checks to ensure they function well during the critical farming season.
Chu Ruiyun, deputy director of the provincial agriculture and rural affairs department, noted that Shandong requires around 2.7 million tonnes of fertilizer and 1.15 million units or sets of agricultural machinery for the spring agricultural production period.
Currently, all kinds of agricultural production materials including machinery have sufficient supplies and can meet the production needs, Chu said.
Local financial institutions have tailored support services for farmers in anticipation of a bumper harvest this year. Funds worth around 800 million yuan (about 126 million U.S. dollars) have been pooled into strengthening field management in the province.
According to official data, Shandong's winter wheat sowing area has reached over 4 million hectares in total this year, with a year-on-year increase of 8,000 hectares.