National Geographic : 2018 Feb
Feeding china 99 with crabs that are sold for food. There are pro- duce greenhouses, broccoli fields, drones to distribute chemicals, a near-finished dumpling factory, and a one-million-hen egg factory slat- ed to triple in size—large enough to justify a temperature-sensitive robot to automatically cull dead birds. CP Group also expects to harvest enough chicken manure annually to produce 22,000 tons of organic fertilizer. Last year the company built a vertical farm, an airy, translucent box housing six 30-foot towers with rotating shelves of plant beds, akin to Fer- ris wheels. When I visited, they held bok choy, amaranth, and garlic chives. The controlled environment allows for targeted fertilizer appli- cation, eliminates the need for most pesticides, and produces quadruple the yield of a field with the same footprint, Wang says. This is remark- ably promising for a country with too little farm- land, particularly one where farmers add to the country’s pollution woes by using three times as much fertilizer as needed. It also sets up CP Group to comply with the government’s goal, announced in 2015, of capping fertilizer and pesticide use by 2020. The complex is largely an exercise in applying manufacturing logic to food, and Wang, who struck me as part pragmatist, part dreamer, envisions At an automated farm owned by CP Group, three million hens lay about 2.4 million eggs a day. Robots detect and remove dead birds, enabling a single worker to tend 168,000 chickens. Northeast of Beijing, it’s the largest such facility in Asia.