One thing you can count on with new technology — it begets more technology. For example, with the invention of John Deere cotton harvesters with on-board module builders, gins were suddenly looking for a method to remove the plastic cover surrounding Deere's round module.
Deere's round bale is a departure from its Case IH counterpart, a square module, and the traditional bread-loaf-shaped module packed by a conventional module-building system.
Most gins already have the capability to feed both the Case IH square module and the bread-loaf module, which are both topped with tarps removed by hand after the module is unloaded from the module truck.
The John Deere model requires a different approach to unwrapping its protection, which resembles a plastic sleeve. Representatives from two companies with unwrapper designs, as well as those representing on-board module builders from both Case IH and John Deere, will be exhibiting at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, Feb. 27-28, in Memphis.
Here's how the two unwrapping systems work, according to Herb Willcutt, agricultural engineer at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.
The Stover Unwrapper GIS uses a grappling device to secure the bale and cut the plastic cover away from the round bale. “A sensor inside the cover serves as a locator for indicating the proper place to cut the plastic to keep any pieces of the plastic being pulled loose into the feeder. It is cut by something similar to a bale sampling saw, which is mounted and automated. After it's been cut, the bale rotates around and the plastic is ejected off the bale. The cotton is then dumped onto the feeder conveyor.”
The Cherokee Round-Up Module Unwrapper uses gravity to free the cotton from the plastic wrap. “A set of spiked arms pick up the round bale off the floor. The bale is rotated so that the bale is standing on its end, then lifted above the feeder. The operator loosens the pressure around the bale until the cotton drops out onto the conveyor, leaving the plastic attached to the spikes. The plastic is not cut during the process.”
Both companies say their devices can keep up with a 60-bale per hour gin without difficulty. Willcutt has seen the Stover device in person, but has seen only video of the Cherokee device. “I think either one is a good system to get the wrap off the bale.”
Other means of handling the round modules have been tested and will soon be offered, Willcutt added.
Members of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be holding their annual meeting during the week of the Farm & Gin Show, and speakers there will include Sledge Taylor, Como, Miss., farmer/ginner and president of the National Cotton Ginners Association; Gary Adams, National Cotton Council economist, who will discuss challenges and opportunities for cotton in 2009; Larry McClendon, Marianna, Ark., farmer/ginner and former National Cotton Council chairman, who will discuss a ginner's perspective on ginning changes; Austin Rose, president of Cape & Sons, Abilene, Texas, who will discuss the outlook for cottonseed marketing; and Julian Beall III, president of TJ Beall Company, West Point, Ga., who will discuss value-added and quality issues.