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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Cotton Production and Processing Research » Research » Research Project #443569

Research Project: Technologies to Protect and Manage Seed Cotton in Modules

Location: Cotton Production and Processing Research

Project Number: 3096-21410-009-018-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2023

The objective of our work is to develop technologies that help to protect and manage seed cotton in modules during harvesting and ginning.

The development and demonstration of a system of tools for managing cotton modules using RFID technology that functions independently of manual/paper-tag based systems has been a primary goal of our research over the last several years. The individual tools form the basis of an electronic module management system that can be used by gins to automate the identification and tracking processes associated with moving cotton from the field to/through the gin. Our goal in 2023 is to complete the development and field testing of this system of tools to enable the management of modules using RFID technology and work toward the integration of this system with existing gin management software products (e.g., eCotton from EWR, inc.) to facilitate seamless data transfer. The current installations in LA and MO will be supported in 2023 as required in addition to a potential new gin location in east Texas. A new tool for use on wheel/telehandler loaders that collects module weight and seed cotton moisture data was developed in previous years. In 2022 extensions of the loader system were implemented to help address plastic contamination by 1) adding IP cameras to capture images of module wrap damage at the gin and 2) adding a rotation feature through which round modules can be properly oriented for fixed position cutting in the recommended cutting zone. Additional field testing and evaluation of the loader system in 2023 is planned to document the impact of module positioning on the incidence of potential contamination events monitored on cotton gin module feeders. The work of this project in 2023 will focus on determining the safe seed cotton moisture content for cotton stored in round modules. This work will investigate the change in fiber and seed quality of cotton stored in round modules as a function of harvest moisture content and storage duration. In this effort, multiple seed cotton moisture sensing systems will be evaluated to determine the reliability in the reported data and determine (if possible) the relationship between the test unit moisture reading and the gravimetric oven-based reference method moisture content. Ginning of modules and/or samples will be conducted based on producer needs and availability of research facilities. Cotton has been machine harvested using cotton pickers and strippers in the United States for over 80 years. Extensive work has been conducted on improving and optimizing the current harvesting mechanisms but limited work has been conducted on developing new methods for harvesting cotton. A new concept is being investigated that collects whole cotton plants from the field and makes the total biomass produced available for post-harvest processing and utilization. The objective of this portion of our project is to conduct and facilitate research efforts focused on the development of this new cotton harvesting approach. Specifically, in-field studies to determine the storage characteristics of whole-plant harvested cotton compressed into bales ranging in bulk density from about 10 to 18 lbs/3ft will be conducted.