China: Smart greenhouses boost yields

Modern facilities are helping to raise output and provide better lives for people in East China. Along with two workers he employs from his village, Sun Zhenxing, 35, a farmer in Shouguang, Shandong province, operates four greenhouses that cover 4 hectares in total.

With each being 260 meters long and 40 meters wide in Dongzhenguan village, Sun's greenhouses are home to 65,000 colorful pepper plants, which can bring him an annual income of 1 million yuan ($148,000).

At the cost of 500,000 yuan each, the facilities feature smart devices, including an all-in-one machine that uses automation to adjust the amount of sunshine, water, and fertilizer, as well as systems that control humidity and temperatures in the greenhouses. "Unlike our parents, who relied completely on the weather and human labor to grow vegetables, we are growing them with technology," Sun said.

Since 1989, when the first batch of greenhouses were built in Shouguang, the city's vegetable cultivation sector has burgeoned, gaining recognition nationwide as China's main vegetable production and trading base.

Greenhouses now cover a combined 40,000 hectares in Shouguang, producing 4.5 million metric tons of vegetables annually, according to the city government. Over the past three decades, growers have updated the greenhouses to better use the land and raise output, thus achieving higher profits. Smart greenhouses account for 90 percent of the total number of newly built greenhouses in Dongzhenguan village.

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