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Local extension educators are part of farming collaboration in China

Local extension educators are part of farming collaboration in China
Members of the Nebraska delegation meet with Chinese partners at the Nebraska Farm location in Shaanxi Province. Courtesy Photo

A collaboration between Nebraska and China, years in the making has finally put down roots in China’s Shaanxi province.

In November of 2016, Governor Ricketts announced that the Nebraska Department of Economic Development had signed an agreement with Chinese officials to create a working demonstration farm, known as the Nebraska (Yangling) Agricultural Sci-tech Park. The partnership, has several entities in China and Nebraska working together.

In the last week of March the Nebraska Extension sent 25 faculty members to work on the agricultural project for spring planting, members included Dr. Jeff Bradshaw and Dr. Nevin Lawrence of the Scottsbluff Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

“One thing they have recognized is as their farming demographic changes like ours did, where the younger generation is not getting into farming,” Bradshaw said. “They will have to increase the size of their farms.”

While, China does have large farms like those across the United States, the majority of the farmers own one to five acres. These small farmers do much of their farming by hand with small equipment.

The demonstration crops will be planted on 160 acres, using bigger tractors, planters and irrigation.

“The site will be irrigated and that’s one of the main reasons the Nebraska Department of Economic Development is involved,” Lawrence said. “One of our biggest manufacturing sectors in Nebraska is irrigation systems, the largest irrigation companies are all headquartered in Nebraska.”

On the first trip over there the team has been working on who the implement dealers are what size tractors they need, and doing soil fertility tests.

“Right now our plan is to plant corn in May and it will be silage for a local dairy and it will be in rotation with winter wheat,” Bradshaw said.

Under the agreement, the farm will be capitalized and managed by Chinese partners, and Bradshaw says the hope is to capitalize and showcase the equipment of Nebraska-based farm equipment manufacturers.

Both Bradshaw and Lawrence say the project is still in it’s preliminary stages and there is a great deal to learn before the extension will have an understanding of the needs of the province and its farming capabilities.

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