Chicory grown in an intelligent vegetable cultivation box co-developed by the agricultural and forestry research institute of Zhoushan and a local agricultural technology company [Photo/zj.zjol.com]
Pelagic fishermen in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province now have the chance to eat fresh vegetables during lengthy voyages thanks to a special technology to grow vegetables on ships co-developed by the agricultural and forestry research institute of Zhoushan and a local agricultural technology company.
Zhoushan is a national pelagic fishery base. Fresh vegetable supply has long been a problem for pelagic fishermen as they are out to sea most of the time.
"The lack of fresh vegetables results in shortage of essential nutrients the human body needs, such as vitamins and minerals, in the long run," said Zhang Zhigang, general manager of Zhoushan Shangxian Agricultural Technology Co.
The company started working on the technology of growing vegetables on ships in 2017. It successfully created an intelligent vegetable cultivation box together with the local agricultural and forestry research institute.
The box is like a small refrigerator, covering only 0.5 square meters. Researchers chose chicory as the vegetable to grow after many considerations.
"Chicory is a popular vegetable that originated in Europe, which is juicy and highly nutritious," said Zhang, adding that the vegetable is easy to grow over a short cycle and has no need of sunshine. It also has high yields.
"The box can allow nearly 150 chicory roots to grow, and they can be harvested after only 28 days," said Zhang.
Result from a trial planting shows that up to 20 kilograms of chicory can be harvested in a growth cycle.
Many pelagic fishing ships have contacted the company to buy one such device.
"We are now working on new devices for more vegetable varieties," said Yang Fei, an agro-technician in the agricultural and forestry research institute of Zhoushan.
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