It's a technique that could have worldwide affects, that would benefit farmers here on the South Plains. Researchers at Texas Tech University were recently awarded a patent for a new method, five years in the making.
"The pricing of the cotton, the grading of the cotton, the quality of the material that's produced, all can be impacted through this technology," explains Dr. Hamed Sari-Sarraf.
Texas Tech Researchers are on the brink of what they say could revolutionize the way cotton is graded and priced. Dr. Sarraf is developing technology that he says can better identify particles known as trash in cotton a factor that determines the quality and value. "It tells accurately what kind of trash there is as well as how much," says Dr. Sarraf. The "trash" Dr. Sarraf refers to can be anything from dust to bark.
Dr. Sarraf says two and three dimensional images of cotton can be analyzed, providing a more in-depth method. Current methods only take a look at what's on the surface and not what's inside. "So they have no way of assessing accurately how much trash there is or what kind of trash there is," he explains.
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Researchers say the x-ray technology has potential to impact the economy right here in West Texas and give farmers a new way to develop and sell their cotton. "It's going to be better valued, it's going to be sold more," explains Mike Stephens, communications coordinator at Texas Tech University. He says this method provides a better understanding of the quality and strength of West Texas cotton.
"The more information that you have and the better that you can assess what cotton is, the better ways that you can cultivate and grow that cotton," adds Stephens.
We spoke with a local farmer about this technology who says this is an exciting development. He says knowing the precise quality of his cotton would help him better market the value and compete globally.