Canals in many agricultural areas are drained and cleaned during the winter to recover eroded soil and fish-produced organic matter and mix it with compost applied to land.
Farmers pick up bags of nitrogen fertilizer manufactured from coal in one of 800 small plants in rural areas. Small amounts are applied to supplement organic fertilizer that supports multiple cropping and relay planting in many rural areas.
Fields like these have been farmed as long as 4,000 years without destroying their fertility or their ability to produce two, or even three crops a year.
Low-tech greenhouses make wintertime food production possible. Straw mats are rolled out on cold nights to protect food crops growing inside.
The Lou-Tang commune near Shanghai has 120 walking tractors, two-wheeled gaoline-powered units manufactured since 1964 that are displacing water buffalo in most farming areas. This model, which also provides belt pulley power for small rice threshers and similar equipment, was designed to meet the needs of farmers working small fields.
Sweet potato starch noodles dry in the sun at one of thousands of small food processing operations operated by agricultural communes in rural areas.
Desired characteristics of pigs traditionally maintained by Chinese households over many centuries include gentle dispositions and unusually large litters. Pigs also are being used increasingly to consume byproducts of food milling and processing.
Restoring and leveling eroded cropland is a commune wintertime activity in some agricultural areas.
Rug and fan making, hand embroidery, and similar artistic work that utilizes skills handed down through generations, are a common wintertime work activity, and produces beautiful items that can go into the export market and provide extra income for agricultural communes.
Narrow roads in rural areas are heavily used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and farmers driving walking tractors pulling farm equipment, making driving of buses and trucks, slow, and dangerous.
All high school students are required to complete courses in agriculture and school gardens provide year-around on-site opportunities to gain both food growing knowledge and practical experience.
Cocoons spun by silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves are sorted and soaked to loosen natural fibers in the first step of the labor-intensive process of making silk in facilities managed by communes in many areas.
Every effort is made in urban areas to fully utilize open land for year-around food production.