When dealing with cotton modules, there are a few things to keep in mind, says Herb Willcutt, Mississippi State University Extension agriculture engineer. Among them:

Accessibility

The first thing is finding a proper location for a module.

“You need somewhere that's accessible to the truck, the harvester and all handling equipment in all kinds of weather,” says Willcutt.

Locate the module on the turn row and force the pickup truck driver to drive over the ends of rows. “It'll slow the driver down, giving him time to look at tarps that may have ponding of water, be loose or blown off.”

Drainage

The place for a module needs to be a smooth, well-drained spot. However, just because it's a well-drained area doesn't mean it's a good location for modules.

“I've seen modules placed at the lower end of rows that run downhill. When it rains the water is funneled right at the cotton.”

The spot for modules also doesn't need to be on a heavy clay soil. Those soils tend to crack open when drying. If rainwater then runs off the tarp, it can soak beneath the module and make the ground soupy. A truck might get to the module, but can bog down because of all the moisture beneath the cotton, says Willcutt.

Overhead obstructions

Modules often are placed too close to power lines or tree limbs. Power lines are especially dangerous.

“I know of one fellow who was electrocuted but survived. The trampler of the module builder caught a ground wire and when the builder moved forward it caused the pole to lean. The wires came right over the builder platform. He climbed up the ladder and brushed the wires with his head. He was knocked to the ground. Luckily his brothers knew enough CPR to save his life. It can happen very easily,” says Willcutt.

Lower tramplers before moving builders if there is a power line that might be contacted.

Fire and debris sources

Modules should be located away from potential fire sources such as well-traveled roads, houses and other high-traffic areas to reduce the possibility of tarp theft, vandalism or accidental fires.


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com.