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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Cotton Ginning Research » Research » Research Project #428934

Research Project: Enhancing the Quality, Utility, Sustainability and Environmental Impact of Western and Long-Staple Cotton through Improvements in Harvesting, Processing, and Utilization

Location: Cotton Ginning Research

Project Number: 3050-41000-009-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 11, 2015
End Date: Apr 12, 2020

1: Determine the expected impact of new cultivars, agronomic practices, and harvesting/storage practices on profitability and risks in ginning of Western and long-staple cotton in collaboration with private-sector partners, ARS-SRRC-CSQ, and other ARS laboratories. 1A: Improve or enhance cotton fiber ginnability, textile utility, and cottonseed end use value of new germplasm releases of both Upland and Pima cottons. 1B: Reduce fiber damage during harvesting. 1C: Improve and reduce environmental risk of cotton harvest preparation. 2: Enable, from a technological standpoint, new commercial technologies, methods and processes to (1) improve process efficiencies, (2) reduce uncertainties and risk, and (3) increase end-product and co-product value in the ginning of Western and other long-staple cottons. 2A: Improve seed-cotton drying and foreign matter extraction. 2B: Develop improved saw ginning technologies to increase efficiency and productivity, and enhance fiber quality. 2C: Enhance high speed roller-ginning technologies to increase capacity and improve textile processing efficiency and yarn quality. 2D: Enhance understanding and knowledge of ginning techniques and processes for better decision making tools at the gin and textile mill. 2E: Improve foreign matter extraction and fiber quality of ginned lint. 2F: Develop methods and systems to reduce energy consumption during ginning. 2G: Assist the ginning industry in complying with regulatory standards. 3: Enable the commercial processing of cotton companion crops, such as chile peppers and tree nuts. 3A: Assist tree nut industries in improving process efficiency and reducing environmental risk. 3B: Optimize field machinery for chile harvest mechanization.

To address critical production, processing and regulatory compliance issues pertaining to Western irrigated cottons and companion crops, this project focuses on three main research areas. The first area advances knowledge of and improves cotton cultivars and production and harvesting practices by 1) collaborating with cotton breeders to determine the ginned fiber quality, textile processing characteristics, and cottonseed quality of newly developed cotton cultivars; 2) investigating cotton picker spindle designs to reduce quality degradation during harvesting; and 3) developing a technology to thermally treat cotton plant stalks for whole-plant desiccation and defoliation. The second improves processing, reduces risk, and increases value by 1) building on earlier work to advance the use of microwave energy to effectively dry seed cotton; 2) improving a device developed to accurately measure seed cotton moisture content for better system management; 3) developing an infrared based sensor to detect plastics contamination in seed cotton at the gin and an electrostatic based device to separate plastics from seed cotton by exploiting static charge affinity differences; 4) evaluating current and, then, developing improved gin saw designs that maintain capacity and reduce fiber damage; 5) cooperating with industry partners in further evaluating and refining a prototype seed cotton reclaimer and lint cleaner feed works capable of processing seed cotton carryover and ginned lint from high speed roller gin stands; 6) evaluating roller ginned upland cotton textile utilization without combing to reduce processing cost; 7) studying in depth the cost of roller ginning upland cottons; 8) exploring improvements in lint cleaner saw wire configuration and grid bar design, and developing new air knife and rotary brush technologies to reduce seed coat fragments in ginned lint; 9) developing continuous air system monitoring and control systems and performing cyclone flow sensitivity analyses to reduce gin energy consumption; and 10) updating particulate emission factors, evaluating regulatory dispersion models, documenting federal reference method particulate samplers for more equitable industry regulation. The third area enhances the viability of cotton companion crops by 1) modifying current walnut drying technologies to reduce energy usage and drying time; 2) building on previous testing and utilizing an experimental approach to improve a retrofit particulate abatement technology for mobile agricultural equipment; and 3) optimizing a prototype to mechanize succulent chili harvest.