Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/28/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Plastic contamination in cotton lint costs the cotton industry approximately $750 million per year. Consequently, the removal of plastic contamination in cotton lint is an issue of top priority to the U.S. cotton industry. One of the main sources of plastic contamination showing up in marketable cotton bales, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cotton classing office, is plastic from the module wrap used to wrap cotton modules produced by the new John Deere round module harvesters. Despite diligent efforts by cotton ginning personnel to remove all plastic encountered during unwrapping of the seed cotton modules, plastic still finds a way into the cotton gin’s processing system. To help mitigate plastic contamination at the cotton gin, ARS and industry partners developed the Visual Inspection and Plastic Removal (VIPR) technology, which efficiently detects and removes plastic contamination during post-harvest processing of cotton. Because cotton gins have extremely low profit margins, the VIPR system was specifically designed to be much less expensive than the detection and removal technologies used in food crop industries, such as almonds and soybeans. VIPR is a “bolt on” system, built using off-the-shelf parts, such as cell phone cameras and embedded processors. These detectors are coupled to a pneumatic ejection system, via custom electronics, which blows plastic contamination out of the cotton-processing stream. During commercial testing, the VIPR technology demonstrated a 90% plus efficacy of removing plastic contamination. The technology was transferred under a CRADA which began in October 2018 with the first commercial units sold in December of 2019 and successfully tested in January of 2020.