Cotton is a textile fiber, widely used for production of apparel, furnishings, and food (e.g. cottonseed oil). The major domesticated variety, accounting for ~90% of the world production is Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) . In the US, cotton is mainly harvested with cotton pickers (Figure 1). During harvesting, extraneous matter beside lint fibers is also removed from the field, and is commonly referred to as cotton trash. Seed cotton containing lint and cotton trash is baled and transported to cotton gins for conditioning and trash removal (Figure 2). Ginned cotton is subsequently sampled so quality assessment can be performed at the USDA classing offices. A number of lint properties are measured (e.g. maturity, micronaire, strength…) in addition to quantifying the smaller amounts of trash particles leftover from ginning. One of the instruments to measure the aforementioned quality parameters is the High Volume Instrument (HVI) (Figure 3). The HVI images the sample and quantifies the surface area covered with cotton trash. However, the HVI cannot differentiate among various categories of cotton trash. To address the issue, our lab has been working on developing new spectroscopic and imaging modalities to detect and classify cotton trash.
Figure 1: Cotton picker .
Figure 2: Baled cotton module in a field .