USDA RESEARCHERS in Texas are preparing to field test a cotton gin waste-containing slurry that helps newly-planted grass seed stay in place.

The new “hydromulch” spray is being studied by agricultural engineers Greg Holt and Mike Buser, with the ARS Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas, and agricultural engineer Daren Harmel and soil scientist Ken Potter, with the ARS Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas. Field testing will take place at Summit Seed, Inc., in Manteno, Ill.

A slurry mixture that is sprayed onto the ground for land reclamation, erosion control and other purposes, hydromulch typically contains green-dyed paper, wood or straw in a slurry mixture with water and grass seed. The slurry helps grass seed stick and stay in place and provides a moist and nutritious mulch for germination.

The test hydromulches will have ryegrass seed in them and will be dyed red, green or brown to distinguish between those made with wastes from different cotton gin processes and regions.

The researchers will compare the test hydromulches with three conventional ones, looking at factors such as seed germination, costs and erosion control.

The waste is held together by a low-cost process called COBY, for Cotton Byproducts. The process was invented by ARS agricultural engineers Greg Holt and Mike Buser at the ARS Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas.