Monday, July 22, 2024

Seed House Safety And Maintenance Tips

Elevated seed houses are valuable for short-term seed storage, wet seed storage and gins with limited yard space. Design improvements allow overhead seed houses to be an efficient method for loading trucks from flat-storage houses and gins. When fully loaded, a double-hopper seed house can weigh 200,000 pounds or more. Structural integrity is critical. Volatile weather can put older seed houses at risk, especially those not properly maintained.

Through the years, moisture and chemicals from seed along with humidity cause the inevitable — rust and corrosion. Since the damage primarily occurs inside the seed house, it is out of sight and mind. If a structural failure occurs, personnel are at risk of injury. All cotton gin managers should review their overhead seed house safety and maintenance procedures before the start of the 2024 cotton ginning season.

Observe Safety Checklist

Never go beneath a seed hopper that contains seed.

Provide proper fall protection for all ladders and catwalks.

Never enter the seed trailer or climb on the side walls of the trailer while beneath a hopper that contains seed.

Post decals, “DANGER – DO NOT ENTER AREA BELOW HOPPER DOORS WHEN SEED IS IN STORAGE HOUSE.” These are free from your local ginning association or from

Contact your ginning association or loss control representative to get a copy of the “Cottonseed System Safety Policy” for employees, visitors and outside contractors, such as seed haulers. This is also available at

Be sure to use all other known gin safety procedures daily.

Maintenance And Repair Tips

All proper safety precautions including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be taken by all personnel who perform maintenance and repairs.

Clean out all seed.

Clean hopper panels to remove seed oil.

Smooth the inside surfaces of the hopper panels again.

Carefully examine the entire seed house for stress fractures and loose hardware, especially if industrial vibrators have been used.

Remove rust and corrosion.

Benefits Of The Catwalk

Best industry practices include using a trailer-viewing catwalk mounted on the outside of the vertical columns, about 9.5 feet above the driveway. This structure provides a good vantage point to see into the tops of the trailers to determine when to open and close the hopper doors.

Jim Granberry, president of Cliff Granberry Corp., contributed this article. Email or call 972-381-8899.

‘Silver Lining’ In Cotton Gin Waste

Cotton gin waste, also known as cotton gin trash, is a byproduct of the cotton ginning process and occurs when the cotton fibers are separated from the seed boll. For cotton gin waste, the treasure is its hidden potential to transform silver ions into silver nanoparticles and create a new hybrid material that could be used to add antimicrobial properties to consumer products, like aerogels, packaging or composites.

Silver nanoparticles are highly sought-after products in the nanotechnology industry because of their antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, electrical and optical properties. These nanoparticles have an estimated global production of 500 tons per year and are widely applied to consumer goods such as textiles, coatings, paints, pigments, electronics, optics and packaging.   

In a study published in ACS Omega, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service revealed the ability of cotton gin waste to synthesize and generate silver nanoparticles in the presence of silver ions.

“Our method not only lets cotton gin waste act as chemical agents for producing silver nanoparticles, which makes it cost-effective and environmentally friendly but also enables embedding the nanoparticles within the cotton gin waste matrix,” said Sunghyun Nam, research engineer at ARS’s Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research Unit in New Orleans. “By embedding them in the cotton gin waste, these materials acquire antimicrobial properties.”

Embedding Nanoparticles

Jacobs Jordan (left) shows a sample after nanoparticle synthesis, Sunghyun Nam (center) takes scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of cotton gin waste nanocomposites, and Michael Easson (right) shows cotton gin waste.

Nam said the researchers used a simple heat treatment of cotton gin waste materials in water containing silver ions that produced silver nanoparticles without the need for additional chemical agents.

This finding is significant since making silver nanoparticles usually requires chemical agents that can be costly and pose environmental concerns. Embedding nanoparticles into a material can also be challenging.

Developing nanoparticle embedding technology is not new for Nam and her team. They previously developed washable antimicrobial wipes by using raw cotton fiber that produced silver nanoparticles inside the fiber. The embedded silver nanoparticles can continue to kill harmful bacteria wash after wash. 

Large quantities of cotton gin waste are generated annually, and the cotton ginning industry is always seeking new sustainable processes that upcycle crop residue.

“Our research paves the way for new material applications of cotton gin waste that can protect against microbial contamination,” Nam said.

A provisional patent application on the self-embedding silver nanoparticle biomass waste compositions has been filed.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.

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