Man in NW China’s Xinjiang devoted to developing agricultural machinery to help make farm work more efficient

Man in NW China’s Xinjiang devoted to developing agricultural machinery to help make farm work more efficient

Driven by the original aspiration to create agricultural implements that directly address the requirements of farmers, Zhang Shuxiang, the founder and general manager of an agricultural machinery company based in Manas county, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has obtained 61 invention patents and utility model patents over the past decades.

Zhang Shuxiang, 51, the founder and general manager of an agricultural machinery company based in Manas county, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, adjusts an agricultural machine. So far, Zhang’s team has developed 28 types of agricultural machinery and obtained 61 patents. (Photo/Lu Kai)

His company currently provides customers with 14 different kinds of agricultural implements across five major categories, helping with multiple links of agricultural production, including planting, fertilization, and harvesting. Among the products sold by the company, 28 types were independently developed by its research and development (R&D) team led by Zhang.

Believing that agricultural machinery R&D must be firmly based on field research, Zhang, who is 51 years old, spends a lot of time finding out about the actual needs of farmers.

During harvest season, he can be found either working in the fields or at the production lines.

“People say I look like a farmer, but I’m a bona fide farmer through and through,” said Zhang, who has a pair of rough hands and closely cropped hair, and often wears a plain T-shirt.

“I just want to make things easier for farmers,” Zhang said. He knows how hard farm work can be, as he has lived in the countryside since he was a child, and farming was like an “obligatory course” for children like him.

“Back then, agricultural machinery was scarce, and most farm work had to be done manually. We had to harvest wheat, corn, potatoes — do everything by hand. Removing kernels from corn cobs by hand was the hardest. The skin on both our palms would be rubbed raw,” Zhang recalled.

The experience inspired Zhang’s dream to someday develop agricultural machinery to make life easier for farmers. His journey toward fulfilling his dream began when he decided to learn a trade and became an apprentice at a local ironworks processing and repair shop in Manas county.

In 1994, Zhang started his own agricultural machinery repair shop after gaining expertise. Since he was unable to afford an air hammer, a necessary tool for his business, he devised a belt drop hammer instead. After that, he began producing tractor implements and equipment like cultivators and fertilizer applicators tailored to the local needs.

“I just tinker with whatever farmers need, to try and make their work a bit easier,” Zhang said.

Observing market demands, Zhang set his sights on developing new machinery with a greater level of technological sophistication. After developing a multifunctional corn thresher with added winnowing, de-stoning, sifting, and bagging functions, Zhang acquired his first invention patent.

Over the years, the down-to-earth entrepreneur has devoted most of his time to field research and the continuous development of new agricultural machinery. He takes his R&D team to provide free services to farmers during the spring-sowing time, during which he can jot down problems and farmers’ feedback. Zhang always carries a notebook with him, which is filled with farmers’ demands for agricultural implements and creative sparks that pop into his head.

Thanks to solid field research and indomitable efforts, Zhang’s team has successfully developed many practical agricultural machinery, including a cotton seed drill, self-propelled date harvester, and drip irrigation tape winder.

In 2010, Zhang established Xianghe Agricultural Machinery Co. Ltd. The company has experienced continuous growth, and its products have been sold to regions across China, including north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Zhang’s useful farm inventions have witnessed the strides of China’s agriculture sector toward mechanization. Recalling scenes of farmers toiling under the sun in his youth, Zhang is gratified by and proud of the country’s advances in the development of agricultural machinery.

The mechanization rate of Xinjiang’s agriculture industry has exceeded 85 percent, and local farmers are rarely seen working in the fields with muddy pants.

A few months ago, Zhang took agricultural machinery he developed to an agricultural machinery expo in Xinjiang, and felt a strong sense of pride seeing a wide array of diversified homemade machinery.

“A lot of modern agricultural machinery are the result of joint efforts of frontline practitioners, and every time I think of the fact that I’m also one of them, I feel a sense of accomplishment,” Zhang said.

Today, he is still working tirelessly to develop the next-generation agricultural machinery with information collection, intelligent decision-making and precision operation capabilities.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *