Smart Agri – 5G Automated Farming Solutions

ZTE and China Mobile are using 5G connectivity to fully automate rice production on 12,000 acres of marginal land near Da’an City, Jilin Province. A smart irrigation system is helping to make the depleted soil fertile again, while remote controlled machinery and drones have made the farm operations more efficient, productive and sustainable.

The Challenge

The world needs to increase sustainable food production to support a growing population cost-effectively. Yet farmers face a number of hurdles. Large amounts of marginal or depleted land cannot be cultivated economically using traditional methods, while urban migration has led to labour shortages in many agricultural areas.

The Solution

ZTE and China Mobile have developed a 5G-enabled farm management solution that is designed to use water, fertilizer, fuel and seeds as efficiently as possible, while dramatically lowering labour costs. The solution brings together a smart irrigation system that optimises the supply of water, remote control of farm vehicles and 5G-connected drones that can monitor the health of the crops. A worker located in the farmhouse can use the 5G connectivity to remotely control between three and five machines simultaneously, significantly boosting productivity.

Impact and Statistics

Automated farming in the trial site in Jilin Province in 2022 yielded economic benefits of 3.3 million yuan (€450,000), according to ZTE, through a 10% increase in output, together with savings in materials and labour costs. The smart irrigation system uses 40% less water than a conventional system, while ZTE says that unmanned tractors are 50% more efficient than a conventional tractor. Similarly a 5G unmanned harvester is 60% more efficient than a conventional equivalent.

Wider Implications

Supported by 5G, automated farming solutions could enable much more marginal land to be cultivated, increasing food production. As well as lowering costs and increasing yield, automation could help to address many of the labour shortages in the agricultural sector. One worker can use 5G connectivity to monitor and control several machines at once from a comfortable environment, rather than being limited to driving a single machine in-person.

Project News

post image
post image
post image

Project Resources