IntelliGinImproved Cotton Ginning
High-quality cotton can come at high costs to the farmer and, ultimately,
the consumer. One reason is that all cotton goes through the same cleaning and
drying sequencewithout regard to differences in moisture content, color,
or foreign matter. The result: lower quality cotton and higher loss of lint.
Improved ginning technology developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists
may soon correct this.
"We have developed a computerized system to automatically measure the
quality of cotton at various stages of gin processing," says W. Stanley
Anthony, who heads the U.S. Cotton Ginning Research Unit at Stoneville,
Mississippi. [See also "Improved Ginning for Better Cotton,"
Agricultural Research, December 1992, pp. 16-18.]
"Sensors determine the quality of incoming cotton and send the
information to a computer. Once the color of the cotton, foreign matter, and
moisture content are known, the software decides the best sequence of
machine-cleaning and drying to get the best market quality and value."
The gin process control system also considers the performance
characteristics of gin machinery, such as foreign matter removal, fiber loss,
and fiber degradation. [See Cotton's
Path Through the IntelliGin.]
The system allows ginners to customize their ginning process for each farmer
so as to increase farmer profits. For instance, if a farmer knows the market
price for various grades of cotton in advance, the ginner can integrate the
actual market price with initial cotton quality information and determine the
sequence needed to optimize dollar returns for that farmer.
Before this invention, assessing the effect each ginning process would have
on cotton properties was nearly impossible. Now, the new gin control system
determines when cotton needs two lint cleaners and when it needs only one. It
also uses the pricing schedule of whatever merchant is going to handle the
cotton for the farmer.
"It prepares the cotton to meet market prices," says Anthony.
Research at field gins from 1994 to 1997 shows that finetuning ginning
operations nets cotton farmers additional profits of $10 to $20 per bale. One
gin in Alabama increased returns to farmers by $16.72 per bale on about 42,000
bales in 1994, worth over $700,000. In 1995, the increased per-bale return was
And the process control system saves the ginner nearly $1 per bale in
reduced energy costs.
Anthony and others at the Stoneville lab developed eight different patents
involving the process control system. ARS agricultural engineers Richard Byler
and Oliver McCaskill, who is now retired, are co-inventors on some of them.
The patents cover automated cotton extraction and grading equipment,
automated sampling devices, electrical moisture sensors, automated calibration
devices, automated directional valves for seed cotton and lint, computer
simulation software, optimization software, machinery performance
characteristics models, and related inventions.
The control system technology for cotton ginning has been licensed
exclusively to Zellweger Uster, an equipment manufacturer, and will be
commercially available in 1998 under the trade name IntelliGin. By
Tara Weaver, Agricultural
Research Service Information Staff, 6303 Ivy Lane, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770,
phone (301) 344-2824.
W. Stanley Anthony is in the
Ginning Research Unit, 111 Experiment Station Rd., P.O. Box 256,
Stoneville, MS 38776-0256; phone (601) 686-3094, fax (601) 686-5483.
"IntelliGinImproved Cotton Ginning Technology" was
published in the February 1998 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
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