New technology for the gin stand could put $18 per bale or more in the cotton producer's pocket.
The technology, which consists of a powered paddle to turn the seed roll and a rotating seed finger to control the level of fiber removal from the seed, significantly increased turnout in testing conducted in the Mid-South in 2003.
The technology is being marketed as the Power Roll gin stand and was developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service through research funded by Cotton Incorporated.
According to Russell Laird, president of PRT Marketing, which is licensed to distribute the new technology, retrofits of the Power Roll are now available. The company is also working with several gin manufacturers to incorporate the technology into new models. As to the retrofits, “it's a pretty easy installation,” Laird said. “Basically, you take the whole front breast off the gin stand and bolt the new one on.”
The power roll technology was invented by Laird's father, USDA/ARS engineer Weldon Laird, at the Lubbock ARS facility.
The power roll technology is a spinoff of Laird's work on EasiFlo cottonseed — cottonseed which is treated with a starch and water coating after ginning to make it easier to handle for dairies and feedlots. Laird was researching ways to remove excess fiber, or ‘tags,’ from the seed. USDA scientists found that this extra fiber coming off the seed during the coating process resulted in clumping of tangled seeds.
Laird set out to remove the tags by running ginned seed through a second gin with the powered paddle and seed finger modifications.
It worked so well that Laird started looking for a way to retrofit the technology on existing gin stands — in effect to remove the excess fiber during the original ginning process.
Ginner Bobby Greene, Servico, Inc., in Courtland, Ala., ran one of his three Continental 141 Double Eagle gin stands with the power roll technology in 2002.
Turnout differences were fairly significant, according to Greene. But just how much improvement in turnout a ginner can expect “is a variable that will depend on the gin point and the type of equipment that the gin is running. Some gins and some ginners take more fiber off the seed.
“We didn't see any degradation in fiber quality. In fact, some of the fiber characteristics showed improvements in some of the length characteristics,” Greene added.
Greene ran four trials on the power roll technology using four modules. Each module was broken into weighted halves with one half ginned on a standard Continental Double Eagle-141, the other on a 141 modified with the Power Roll technology.
“We averaged a little over 30 more pounds of additional lint per bale on the power roll technology,” he said. “I'm sure that some gins won't see those differences. But others may see even greater differences.”
There were also noticeable differences in the appearance of the ginned seed in the tests, noted Greene. “A typical gin stand leaves a little tail on the seed. We're taking those tails off. But it's not damaging the seed or scalping it. We're taking off spinnable fiber.”
The technology is good for ginners because they gin more cotton, noted Greene. “And that's what we're in business for. Increased turnout equates to more volume at really no additional cost. It uses the same amount of electricity.
“It's good for the producer because his yield goes up at no additional cost. Thirty pounds at 60 cents is $18 an acre.”
Tests at Greene's gin also showed a longer fiber going into the bale. “My theory — and it's just a theory — is that the power roll is removing more whole fibers, thereby producing fewer short fibers,” Greene said. “I believe that some of the short fiber that we have in cotton is created by the gin stand.
“We're getting harangued about our quality,” he added. “More of our cotton is going to export, and (foreign buyers) are very length-sensitive, as are our domestic mills. But anything we can do to improve the length characteristics of the fiber, that's good for the grower and the grower's customers.”
Greene plans to expand the power roll technology to all three gin stands at Servico for the 2003 ginning season.
“This coming year, we plan to continue to do more research as well as commercial marketing of the technology,” Laird added. “The research model we had with Bobby was sort of pieced together, but we're putting together a commercial model for a Continental 141. We're continuing to work with Lummus, and we want to develop kits for every existing gin stand and model.”
More information is available on the Power Roll gin stand at http://powerrollginstand.com.