Mechanized agriculture has been a sort of holy grail for communists since the days of Stalin. China's Ministry of Agriculture is still obsessed with mechanization, viewing it as an achievement of modern agriculture. Mechanization frees up land that would be used to support draft animals and laborers, substituting petroleum-based energy for plant-based energy.
On December 14, the Ministry released its report on achievements in agricultural mechanization this year, breathlessly proclaiming that China has entered a new era of mechanized agriculture as human and animal power are replaced by machines in an historic transition. Mechanization has become "the main force in agricultural production and resistance to disasters," playing a role in China's seven straight years of bountiful harvests.
This year "big breakthroughs were made." This year 15.5 billion yuan was budgeted for machinery purchase subsidies, an increase of 2.5 billion yuan, for purchase of 5.25 million pieces of machinery benefiting 4 million farmers. The total power of ag machinery increased 5.1% to 920 million kilowatts, the structure of equipment was improved. Conservation tillage projects received 300 million yuan in investment, 370 million yuan was allocated for establishing a grassroots mechanization system. A total of 407 million yuan was used for subsoil soil preparation subsidies.
Sowing and harvesting of crops was 52% mechanized this year, up 3 percentage points. Transplant of rice seedlings is 20% mechanized, up 3 percentage points; mechanized harvest is over 60%, up 5 percentage points. Nationally, mechanization of corn harvest has reached 25%, up 8 percentage points. In Shandong the corn harvest is 71.5% mechanized.
Agricultural departments organized machinery that somehow overcame drought, "resisted" low spring temperatures, sandstorms, typhoons, and hail.
Mechanization sped up the summer wheat harvest by four days, allowing faster planting of double-cropped corn after the wheat was harvested. In the fall, 29 million pieces of machinery were organized to harvest the crops at high speed with high quality and complete fall seeding, an important contribution to this year’s abundant harvest and laying a good foundation for next year’s grain production.