Friday, December 2, 2022

Collaboration Across The Cotton Belt

Cotton Incorporated Develops Partnerships To Coordinate With Cotton Farmers’ Priorities

Christi Short
Christi Short
Rochester, Texas

The Agricultural and Environmental Research Division at Cotton Incorporated wears many different hats. We often hear of them partnering to support on-farm research projects, managing funded projects or giving presentations at industry meetings.

But one area that is often overlooked is their commitment to promote Beltwide industry collaboration among major companies, universities and researchers to leverage Cotton Research and Promotion Program assessment dollars. This provides the opportunity for Cotton Incorporated directors to continually develop relationships beyond research projects being directly funded by Cotton Incorporated.

“A large part of my job is spending time visiting with current or potential partners in the industry that align with cotton growers’ priorities,” says Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AERD director with Cotton Incorporated.

“These partners come in a variety of forms: public and private sector researchers from across the world, colleagues at different commodity groups, start-up companies, and cotton growers, just to name a few.

“But the common theme is how I can utilize my relationships with these partners to provide avenues for collaboration and the opportunity to continually keep cotton on the forefront of new technologies and research advancements.”

Roundtable Conversations

One example of using these relationships for the benefit of cotton producers happened recently in Texas when several individuals needed to discuss overall cotton seed quality across the country. Two Cotton Incorporated directors, Drs. Kater Hake and Gaylon Morgan, organized a roundtable discussion among certified producer organizations, cotton seed company representatives and key seed quality researchers from two different universities.

Topics included:

• New research ideas.

• The best equipment and its availability to help increase the quality of data being collected.

• Opportunities to implement the research findings at the company level.

• Priorities of cotton growers across the Cotton Belt.

• The affect cotton seed modifications would have on the ginning and crushing sector.

Another focus of the conversation was how the industry could come together as a whole to better understand the genetic, environmental and management factors that affect seed quality and stand establishment.

gaylon morgan
Gaylon Morgan (right) with Cotton Incorporated teams with Reagan Noland from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension while visiting farm research plots in Texas.

Cotton Incorporated staff facilitated discussion before, during and after the meeting on new research ideas. They also were vital in linking the correct people together to advance the understanding of seed quality across the Cotton Belt.

“While it’s easy to focus individually on what one seed company provides to growers or what one research entity publishes, it’s the facilitation behind the scenes and big picture ideas that create the environments to advance research, which will equate to long-term grower profitability,” Morgan says.

Texas Supports Camera Project

Another Cotton Incorporated initiative is a move to combat plastic contamination in the field, in the gin and at the spinning mills. One of the earliest projects in which Cotton Incorporated invested started with Texas State Support funds. The goal was to see if a video camera monitoring system at the module feeder would help gins identify and remove plastic.

Since this initial project started, the National Cotton Council has taken the lead by deploying several of these systems across the Cotton Belt. In partnership with research ginning labs, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, the National Cotton Council, and several different departments at Cotton Incorporated, plastic contamination prevention and removal studies are happening in the field, in the gin and at spinning mills. These organizations also are exploring different wrapping materials for modules and bales across the nation.

A Group Effort

One of the Cotton Incorporated researchers intimately involved in the work is Dr. Ed Barnes in AERD. He notes how Cotton Incorporated is dedicated to maintaining a multi-divisional and industrywide strategy to addressing the very real threat of plastic contamination to U.S. cotton.

Industry personnel need to partner with colleagues in the fiber competition, product development and fiber processing departments of Cotton Incorporated to understand the effects of contamination in their respective areas of the supply chain. Their collaboration also is necessary to connect this research to the individuals at entities across the world by leveraging their relationships with textile mills.

Reports, collaborations and roundtable discussions have been instrumental in identifying ways the industry can decrease plastic overall and ensuring these efforts have a lasting effect. Pulling together experts from different organizations and the staff from other Cotton Incorporated departments is key in keeping contamination-free cotton front of mind.

“Just like with the seed quality discussion and our contamination partnerships, we want to bring people together to have open lines of communication,” Morgan says.

“When there is a new technology, a new idea or an emerging issue, the right people can quickly be assembled to be ready to work on this for the betterment of cotton growers everywhere.

“We want to be able to leverage grower funds, researchers’ time and outside funding sources to make the biggest impact possible. These collaborative conversations don’t always have tangible results associated with them, but eventually they can provide a huge impact.”

Christi Short is the Southwest Regional Communications Manager for The Cotton Board. You can contact her at cshort@cottonboard.org.

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