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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Cotton Harvesting Innovations for the Texas High Plains

Location: Cotton Production and Processing Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this research is to identify improved harvesting methods which help to maintain fiber quality, decrease seed cotton/lint foreign matter content, and improve producer profitability.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The work of this project in 2013 will focus on three main areas: 1. New stripper harvesters with the ability to form seed cotton modules will be marketed soon. This work will evaluate the effect of seed cotton storage in plastic wrapped round modules on stripper harvested cotton lint and seed quality. 2. As the stripper harvested portion of the US cotton crop increases, it is imperative that efforts be made to maximize fiber quality and cleanliness. This work will evaluate new conveying/cleaning systems for use on striper harvesters that better preserve fiber quality and improve seed cotton cleanliness. 3. Precision agriculture technology has not gained widespread adoption across the cotton producing area of the Southern High Plains. This technology depends greatly on the ability to accurately and reliably map seed cotton and lint yield which has been problematic when attempted on stripper harvesters. Yield mapping systems have achieved higher rates of success on picker harvesters due to decreased foreign matter and dust content compared to stripped cotton. Recently, a new yield monitor system was released for commercial use on stripper harvesters. Unlike previous systems tried on stripper harvesters that use infrared sensors, the new system utilizes microwave sensor technology to measure seed cotton flow. This work will document the accuracy of the new commercial yield monitor system and define the relationship between system accuracy and various material, environmental, and system parameters.

3. Progress Report:
3A multi-year study in cooperation with Texas AgriLife Research and Extension personnel was established in 2010 and continued through 2012 to evaluate the influence of sub-surface drip irrigation level, nitrogen application rate, and harvest method on cotton yield and quality. In all years, the study was conducted at two locations in the Southern High Plains: Helms Farm (Halfway, TX) and AGCARES (Lamesa, TX). In 2012 at the Helms Farm location, yields produced with DP 0912B2RF were not affected by irrigation or nitrogen level within a harvesting method, but overall yields trended higher with stripper harvesting. Lint values were similar for both harvesting methods, while irrigation and nitrogen levels did influence quality within the picker harvested plots. Irrigation level, nitrogen level or harvesting method did not affect gross return for DP 0912B2RF. Irrigation levels increased yields for FM 9180B2F within both harvesting methods at Helms Farm, and overall yields were higher with stripper harvesting. Irrigation level, nitrogen level, or harvesting method did not affect lint value for FM 9180B2F, but gross returns were increased with the high irrigation treatment. Percent lint turnout was increased with picker harvest for both varieties. For the AGCARES location, lint yields ranged from 1213 to 1355 lbs. lint/A within the treatments. Similar lint yields were produced with both picker and stripper harvesting methods. Within a harvesting method, yields were similar for all irrigation/nitrogen fertilizer level treatments. When averaged across harvesting method and nitrogen levels, yields increased only 9% with the high irrigation treatment. Cotton lint value was not affected by harvesting method, irrigation level, or nitrogen level. The base irrigation x base nitrogen treatment has a lower loan value when stripper harvested. Gross revenues per acre were not affected by harvesting method or nitrogen level, but did increase at the high irrigation level. Work was conducted in 2012 to document the influence of harvesting and conveying systems used on stripper harvesters on fiber quality and seed cotton foreign matter content. Seed cotton samples were collected by hand from the plants in the field and at five sequential locations on a stripper from the point of harvest through the field cleaner. The results of this work indicate that the harvesting and conveying systems used on the stripper have a minimal effect on HVI and AFIS fiber quality parameters. Foreign matter content measurements indicate that the cross auger and pneumatic conveying system could be redesigned to provide additional seed cotton cleaning. Thus, additional research was conducted to compare the performance of a wire belt conveyor to the standard auger conveyor on a stripper harvester. Fiber quality and foreign matter content data were collected and analyzed. Minimal differences in terms of foreign matter content and fiber quality parameters were observed between the two conveyor systems. Foreign matter content of cotton conveyed by either system was substantially reduced by the use of a field cleaner with no damage to fiber quality. Future optimization work performed on wire belt conveyors could aid in increasing their cleaning ability over the cross auger. A wire belt conveyor has potential advantages over the standard auger conveyor such as weight savings, easy incorporation into a flexible stripper header design, and the possibility to design wider headers than are possible with an auger conveyor. Interest in the use of cotton crop by-products for the production of bio-fuels and value-added products is increasing. Research documenting the availability of cotton crop by-products after machine harvest is needed. A study was conducted to document the total above-ground biomass production for modern cotton cultivars under irrigated and non-irrigated conditions and document the characteristics of the biomass in terms of value as a soil amendment, animal feed, or a feedstock for fuel production or the production of various composite materials. Preliminary results indicate that approximately half of the biomass produced by a cotton crop remains in the field after stripper harvesting but this portion increases to roughly 65% for a picker harvested crop. Analysis of nutrient, chemical, and energy value data is ongoing.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/15/2017
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