Unencumbered flow of uncontaminated cotton into the marketplace continues to be a National Cotton Council priority.
What about contamination prevention?
■ The NCC strongly urges producers and gin managers to have their entire harvest and ginning crews watch the updated NCC-produced “Prevention of Plastic Contamination” video. The National Cotton Ginners Association conveyed this message at its three Gin Schools this year.
Proper handling of round modules in the field while being transported to the gin yard and from the yard into the gin is critical to prevent contamination from module wrap.
English and Spanish versions of the updated video, along with other contamination prevention resources, are on the NCC’s website at www.cotton.org/tech/quality/contamfree.cfm. Major topics include: 1) picking up debris in the field; 2) reviewing key maintenance and component adjustments on round module harvesters to ensure proper operation and to prevent plastic wrap pinching, gathering, or tearing; 3) best practices for transporting and staging round modules in the field and at the gin yard; and 4) best practices on unwrapping and feeding round modules into the gin.
New topics in the updated video cover what to do with round module wrap cores once they are empty and proper synchronization of module truck bed-chain speed with the ground when picking up round modules, which is different for rectangular modules.
How is detection research progressing?
■ Ongoing research includes evaluating the use of drones to assist growers in detecting plastic in their fields prior to harvest. Regarding detection at the gin, the three U.S. Department of Agriculture gin labs are working on systems that detect and eject plastic from the ginning system before bale formation.
New and existing gin machines are being evaluated or modified to determine if the plastic can be better separated in cleaning ahead of the gin stand. In addition, optical detection systems continue to be developed and evaluated. This fall, a prototype system will be tested that uses optical detection combined with an air knife. Thermal extraction also is being explored.
The NCC, with Cotton Foundation funding, completed testing last season of the value of cameras placed at the module feeder disperser section to observe incoming plastic wrapping on the disperser cylinders.
Some gin managers are now implementing cost-effective wireless camera monitoring systems, such as Nest, which allow ginners to observe plastic accumulation on the cylinders through their smartphones or on monitors in their gin in real time.
Any changes being made to improve cotton movement into marketing channels?
■ Recently implemented policies in the USDA Cotton Storage Agreement — based on NCC resolutions regarding warehouse bale shipment reporting — should enhance raw cotton delivery. The policies call for merchants and warehouses to communicate all shipping requests and responses electronically and promptly.
In adding this requirement, USDA will better monitor warehouses’ compliance to CSA shipping requirements. These changes should help streamline communication between warehouses and merchants and assist in providing data traceability.
Additionally, the CSA requires warehouses to be open for storage and delivery of cotton every normal business day not less than six hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. If a warehouse is not able to be open, it must have someone available to receive and load trucks.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.