Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/29/2008
Publication Date: 6/1/2008
Citation: Ge, Y., Thomasson, J.A., Sui, R., Wanjura, J.D. 2008. Wireless GPS system for module fiber quality mapping: System improvement and field testing. In: Proceedings of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, January 8-11, 2008, Nashville, Tennessee. 2008 CDROM. p. 604-611. Interpretive Summary: Yield mapping systems are available for agricultural harvesting equipment such as grain combines and cotton pickers. These systems provide producers with site specific information on crop performance by measuring yield as the machine operates in the field. Producers can use yield maps to evaluate the impact of input resources such as fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide applications on crop performance. However, these systems give no information on crop quality. In the US, cotton is marketed on quality parameters such as strength, length, micronaire, and color. Previous work indicated that there is sufficient localized variation of these fiber properties within a field such that a producer may be able to make management decisions based on fiber property optimization as well as yield maximization. A system was designed and constructed in 2006 to map fiber quality parameters within a field on a module scale. The system, mounted on the harvester, linked each basket of cotton placed in a module to the location in the field from which it was harvested via GPS coordinates. The modules were ginned and the HVI fiber properties from each lint bale in the module was averaged and linked back to the GPS coordinates in the field to create fiber property maps. Inadequate system components, limited wireless transmission range, and software inefficiencies were identified in the initial field testing of the system. Thus, the objectives of this study were to (1) improve the first version of the wireless GPS system, (2) field test the improved version, and (3) demonstrate the system's capability for module-level fiber quality mapping. System modifications to address these problems were integrated during the 2007 field tests and the results showed that it is possible to implement wireless tracking of harvested seed cotton from the harvester through the boll-buggy to the module builder. No hardware or software malfunctions were encountered during 2007 and module level variation in fiber properties such as micronaire, uniformity, Rd, and +b were observed. Further, the system showed promising results and is easily implemented on a cotton picker with a commercially available yield monitor so that site specific crop management can begin to address both yield and fiber quality.
Technical Abstract: A wireless GPS system for module-level fiber quality mapping has been developed at Texas A&M University. In its complete form, it includes subsystems for harvesters, boll buggies, and module builders. The system was field tested on a producer's farm near Plains, Texas, in 2006. The field test identified the following problems: (1) lack of a needed boll buggy subsystem, (2) limited wireless signal transmission range, and (3) software inefficiency. In 2007, improvements were made to tackle these problems: (1) addition of a boll buggy subsystem, (2) placement of wireless antennas on top of the cabs of the harvester, boll buggy tractor, and module builder via extension cables, and (3) redesign of software. Two additional field tests were conducted on the improved system on the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station cotton fields. The results showed that the system performed satisfactorily with no hardware or software malfunctions. Tracking of a basket load from harvester to boll buggy to module builder can be implemented automatically, with wireless transmission range being greatly enhanced. Spatial variation of certain fiber quality parameters (such as micronaire, uniformity, Rd, +b) is shown in module-level fiber quality maps. The system is quite promising and can be mounted on commercial cotton harvesting equipment for fiber quality mapping so that site specific crop management can start to address fiber quality in addition to lint yields.