A new cotton sampling system developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists in the U.S. helps growers determine the different fiber qualities produced by their cotton plants throughout a harvested field. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency. ARS plant physiologist Gretchen Sassenrath worked with technician Ray Adams in the ARS Application and Production Technology Research Unit at Stoneville, Mississippi, to design a method of spatially sampling cotton during harvesting operations. The system helps determine what underlying factors, such as soil moisture, may be affecting the fiber properties.
The system works alongside the cotton yield monitor, a device that measures the quantity of cotton at any given position in the field. The yield monitor is equipped with a GPS receiver to compute position, speed and time. The data from the yield monitor and the fiber properties are then entered into the GIS. A GIS map shows growers the areas of their fields which need more attention and also which areas are producing cotton bolls with the best fiber properties. Once the cotton fiber properties have been determined, the value of the cotton lint is calculated from the same tables that farmers use when selling their cotton.