In an effort to be self-reliant in feeding its 1.4 billion population, China has been focusing on the quality of the forage used in raising livestock.
Communities in the northern part of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are welcoming a surplus of animal feed known as corn silage. New machinery and improved nutrients have enabled this season’s bumper crop.
About 100 kilometers north of Urumqi, capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, farmers in Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture are combing through the field to process quality corn silage.
Made from fresh corn plants, corn silage is an important source of feed for ruminant animals such as cows. It’s high in energy and easily digested. The feed is also suitable to mechanization.
“Judging from today’s harvest, the yield is very good this year. It’s around 60 tonnes per hectare. Based on current market price, it’s about $4,500 per hectare. After deducting expenses, we can earn $20 per hectare,” Zhou Xianchun, director of Manasi County Corn Silage Cooperative, told CGTN.
Local communities have set up cooperatives to manage the planting and selling. They have also adopted quality control measures to ensure the best corn silage and have invested in new machinery to facilitate harvest.
“Previously, we could only harvest around 10 hectares of crops a day. But now, with improved machinery, we can cover 20 hectares. Harvesting has become faster, and mechanization also helped cut our costs,” Zhou said.
In the city of Tacheng, some 500 kilometers north of Changji Prefecture, farmers receive support from authorities in the form of machinery and ways to improve the nutrient balance of corn silage.
“The departments have helped coordinate harvesters and 10 transporting vehicles. It has made our life and work more convenient. My family has about 12 hectares of corn silage, and we are able to harvest the fields within one and half days,” said Pan Kun, a local resident.
Statistics show that around two-thirds of corn silage in China is used as animal feed and less than one-third as raw material for industrial processing. The start of the harvest season is expected to alleviate demand for corn silage in the country.