2009 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Develop technologies for production, harvesting, and storage that directly impact gin plant operation, gin product quality, and textile mill operation.
2. Develop new and improved processing, sensing and control technologies for superior fiber/seed separation, foreign matter identification and extraction, accurate online cotton properties measurement and efficient process control to produce higher quality fiber more economically for optimal textile utility.
3. Develop new technologies and alternative uses for cotton production systems, ginning equipment, lint, seed, and gin by-products to increase the value of gin-related products.
4. Develop new knowledge and technology for assessent and remediation to assist with ginning industry safety and environmental regulatory compliance.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The approach will be to combine well-defined experiments, testing specific hypotheses, with long-term, higher risk exploration of innovative concepts that may lead to new technologies. The laboratory interdisciplinary team of 5 ARS scientists, 10 Federal employees and various other support personnel brings collaborative relationships and diverse experience together to focus on 17 projects directly supporting the laboratory research program.
The scope of this project covered all aspects of the cotton industry, including new variety development, harvesting, saw and roller ginning, emission monitoring and control, cotton quality effects on textile processing and regional cotton companion and specialty crops. Research cooperators included university, commercial, private, state, & national ginning organizations, & other USDA laboratories. Development of a thermal defoliator for cotton progressed from a laboratory two-row machine to a commercial prototype six-row machine that has been successfully used by an organic cotton producer to defoliate his cotton prior to harvest. This laboratory has worked with the support of Cotton Inc. to develop an experimental spindle-picker that is capable of independently varying ground & picking operational speeds. This unit will be used to quantify cotton fiber quality damage occurring at harvest as well as developing & qualifying experimental picking component designs. Cooperative research on high speed roller ginning supported by Cotton Inc. and transferred to commercial gins by Lummus Industries has resulted in approximately 160,000 bales of upland cotton being roller ginned in California during the 2008/09 ginning season. These numbers are expected to increase, particularly in those areas of the cotton belt that grow extra-long staple upland cottons. Other research continues with the high speed rotary knife roller gin to increase its flexibility by being able to differentially separate more desirable fibers from less desirable fibers, & improving functional components of the gin stand itself. Cotton fiber quality was a central focus of the research & projects concentrating on fiber quality included an industry wide survey on current lint cleaning practices and quality effects, evaluation of commercial cotton moisture sensors for moisture control through the baling process, looking for alternatives to seed-cotton drying other than heated air, improved tooth design for saw gin stands, detection of cotton contaminants such as man-made plastics during the processing of raw cotton, effects of cotton bale storage conditions on ginned fiber & improved lint cleaner grid bar designs. Improving the value of Pima cottonseed thru utilization for biodiesel & improved dairy feed is another project that has made substantial progress under this project. In addition, laboratory engineers have worked with specialty crops such as chile & pecans to apply ginning materials handling & control methods to the mechanical harvest of these regional companion crops. Substantial progress was made on transferring machine vision techniques developed by ARS to identify particular cotton trash components to the AMS for use in classing lines to improve the grading of US ginned cotton. This laboratory also was proactive in transferring technology to the industry through training schools, technical meetings, ginning demonstrations & related talks to students & the general public throughout the project. This laboratory's published research on cotton & frequent contact with the industry has continued to open up new research opportunities on cotton as well as related companion crops.
Terminator II Cotton Defoliator: A fully functional commercial prototype thermal defoliator was successfully unleashed on an organic cotton field this past harvest season. Defoliation is a common practice in production cotton since it allows for more efficient timing of harvest. The six-row prototype thermal defoliator, evolved from an earlier two-row ARS laboratory model, uses controlled heat that stops plant growth and kills the leaves. This thermal process crushes the current chemical defoliant process when it comes to speed and environmental limitations. The chemical process requires still air conditions for application and then about 10 days of warm, sunny, humid weather to work properly. The thermal terminator can be used as long as the fields are not too muddy for ground work, and the cotton is ready to be picked a couple of days later. An added advantage of the thermal process is that the heat wipes out the sucking insects that cause sticky cotton. The thermal defoliator promises to be an effective tool for use in organic cotton, or in areas where chemicals are ill-advised, or as an effective means of eliminating sucking insect activity just prior to cotton harvest.
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Macias-Corral, M.A., Samani, Z.A., Hanson, A.T., Smith, G.B., Funk, P.A., Yu, H.W., Longworth, J. 2008. Anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste and agricultural waste and the effect of co-digestion with dairy cow manure. Bioresource Technology. 99(17):8288-8293.
Funk, P.A., Eiceman, G.A., White, C.R., White, W. 2008. Laboratory detection of plastics in seedcotton with ion mobility spectrometry. Journal of Cotton Science. 12:237-245.
Hughs, S.E., Valco, T.D., Williford, J.R. 2008. 100 years of cotton production, harvesting and ginning systems engineering: 1907 - 2007. Transactions of the ASABE. 51(4):1187-1198.
Funk, P.A., Gamble, G.R. 2009. Fiber properties of saw and roller ginned naturally colored cottons. Journal of Cotton Science. 13:166-173.
Armijo, C.B., Baker, K.D., Hughs, S.E., Barnes, E.M., Gillum, M.N. 2009. Harvesting and seed cotton cleaning of a cotton cultivar with a fragile seed coat. Journal of Cotton Science. 13:158-165.
Whitelock, D.P., Armijo, C.B., Buser, M.D., Hughs, S.E. 2009. Using cyclones effectively at cotton gins. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 25(4):563-576.