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Cotton gin serves educational, research purposes. (Update).

Researchers and students from many educational levels are gaining information at Mississippi State University (MSU) from a fully functional cotton mini-gin, the only operational gin on a college campus.

ASAE member Eugene Columbus, senior research associate with MSU's Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, says the 3-year-old gin has been useful in both teaching students and in researching cotton ginning by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) farms. The mini-gin has the ability to accommodate producers' and industry's needs by processing cotton samples too small for a commercial cotton gin to process.

"The cotton gin is designed to take MSU's education a step further by offering an experience not available anywhere else," Columbus says. "Graduates of MSU's gin management and technology program gain the technical and business knowledge necessary to operate in the cotton industry."

MAFES researchers use the gin to process some of their larger research plots. Samples are taken to evaluate moisture content, yields, USDA classing, and fiber quality. The minigin, which can process one bale an hour, also will be used to help evaluate a new cotton-picker this fall in a joint research effort by MSU's Extension Service and the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. Cotton Inc. is funding the study.

The gin laboratory, located in the Pace Seed Lab at MSU, is valued at $2 million. The university was able to construct the equipment for less than one-eighth that cost.

"The gin cost MSU less than $250,000 to build, thanks to several donations by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation and by several gin companies and individuals," Columbus says. "Those donors recognized the need for this type of educational opportunity on a university campus."

Columbus says gins have changed very little operationally over the years, but he still has goals for expansion and improvement on the mini-gin.

"Plans to improve the facility include adding a suction unloading system to allow us to take cotton from trailers. We want to add Programmable Logic Controllers to monitor cotton flow, shaft speeds, and process throughput," Columbus says.

Two noncommercial, small-scale gins exist in the United States, both in Mississippi: the MAFES-Agricultural and Biological Engineering mini-gin and one at the USDA'S Cotton Ginning Lab in Stoneville. A third gin is under construction at the University of Georgia.

For more information contact Columbus, 662-325-3282, columbus@able.msstate.edu.
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Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:391
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