A service vehicle refuels an agricultural machine in Anziying township, Nanyang city, central China's Henan Province, May 31. (People's Daily Overseas Edition/Wang Junling)
Early in the morning on June 1, local farmers placed many orders for reaping wheat in Dengzhou, a county-level city in Nanyang city, central China's Henan Province. The orders were soon received by harvester operators.
Everyone was busy trying to speed up the harvesting of wheat.
Nanyang is a major agricultural city in Henan, producing more than 7 billion kg of grain for five consecutive years. That accounts for 10.5 percent of Henan's total grain output. However, rain has caused inconvenience during this year's summer harvest season in Nanyang.
These days, harvester operators have been busy reaping wheat in fields in Nanyang.
"I've reaped more than 100 mu (6.67 hectares) of wheat today and my machines are going to run out of diesel. Please come to refuel it within half an hour," Wang Kangzhen, an operator from Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, made a call for refueling service. Soon, a refueling vehicle equipped with the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) positioning service arrived in the fields Wang's two harvesters had been working in, and refueled his machines.
"This year, there is less time for local farmers to carry out harvesting activities, so we must race against time to help them harvest their wheat," said Wang.
Diesel for agricultural machines is a dangerous material and the density of gas stations in rural areas is low. In the past, harvesters would stop working and go to gas stations to refuel when low on diesel. After they refuel, they would return to the fields.
"This process took at least an hour, during which I could have harvested wheat on 17 to 18 mu of land," said Wang.
Hu Bingbing, a senior manager of Kunlun BeiDou Smart Technology Co., Ltd., said refueling agricultural machines has always been a problem during summer harvest season. Due to their complex conditions, roads surrounding fields can easily become crowded with agricultural machines coming and going, which causes delays in harvest operations.
"During this year's summer harvest season, we've carried out a pilot mobile refueling service in Henan, Shandong and Hebei provinces. After operators place an order on an app, we contact them and locate their harvesters through BDS positioning," said Hu.
The smooth operation of the pilot service is supported by big data.
Chen Ying, an associate professor at the College of Information and Electrical Engineering of China Agricultural University, can access the number, distribution and operations of agricultural machines such as wheeled tractors and harvesters in real time on his computer.
"A machine equipped with the BDS positioning system is considered active when its data is consecutively transferred to this big data platform over 200 times. On May 30, a total of 4,580 agricultural machines were active in Nanyang and the figure reached 8,784 the next day," said Chen, who explained that the increase in the number of agricultural machines indicated a rising demand for refueling service.
For refueling vehicles, aimless driving leads to high costs and prior experience is hardly useful this year because of the weather and unpredictable schedules of operators. Therefore, real-time data on the operations of agricultural machines is needed to scientifically design routes for refueling vehicles.
An agricultural cooperative in Zhenping county deploys more than 150 agricultural machines during the peak season of summer grain harvest every year. The machines not only work on nearly 30,000 mu of farmland in the county, but also help farmers from surrounding regions during the busy farming periods.
"I find that refueling vehicles is a safe, efficient and convenient option to refuel agricultural machines, and I hope the pilot service can be expanded during this year's autumn harvest season," said Liu Zhengqiang, director of the agricultural cooperative council.