“Speed breeding” of rice in Hunan desert, Xinjiang


Within greenhouses that stretch ten thousand acres in Hotan, southern Xinjiang, scientists from the Institute of Urban Agriculture (IUA) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences have recently harvested the first batch of rice grown in the desert. The rice is cultivated on three-layer frames along with precise environment control in desert greenhouses, rather than conventional methods, which nearly halves the growth cycle, harvesting in just two months. The harsh climate in the Hotan desert provides an opportunity rather than a hindrance. This region’s unique geographical features, including long hours of sunshine and a large difference in temperature between day and night, provide an ideal condition for crop cultivation.

The researchers have accelerated plant growth by applying dynamic LED lighting recipes, specific nutrient solution formulations, and advanced soilless cultivation technologies. By using energy-efficient technologies, running costs were significantly reduced compared to conventional greenhouses.

Currently, the construction cost of energy-saving desert greenhouses is said to be 350 yuan (about 48.2 U.S. dollars) per square meter, around one-third of that of Dutch glasshouses. Meanwhile, its operation cost is about 25 percent of Dutch glasshouses. In the future, both construction and operation costs of this kind of greenhouse can be reduced by the use of green energy, mechanization, and artificial intelligence. Such greenhouses will be highly competitive internationally.

The research team have also explored key technologies for speed breeding of staple crops such as soybean, maize and wheat, as well as oilseed rape, cotton and alfalfa in the desert greenhouse in Hotan.

“Speed breeding” of rice in Hunan desert, Xinjiang
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