USDA partners with Texas Tech to build new on-campus cotton classing facility
By: Norman Martin
Texas Tech and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Cotton and Tobacco Program signed an historic cooperative agreement today (July 1) to allow the government agency to construct, own and operate a new cotton classing facility on campus near the university's Rawls Golf Course.
The 27,700 sq. ft building includes 4,500 sq. ft of conditioned (70F +\- 2, and 50% RH +\- 2) lab space and will be able to class 5 million bales per season. Construction is expected to take about 14 months, going online for the 2020-21 season.
While Lubbock is already home to the largest cotton classing office in the world, the new facility with its campus location will bring together agricultural and research communities in a collaborative partnership to strengthen the cotton industry that's critical to West Texas and the state, said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec.
Cotton classing offices across the United States measure and classify cotton by its specific physical attributes, enabling it to be marketed by producers. But classing information also gives precise information to the textile industry regarding the cotton fibers, allowing it to be used in the most optimized way to produce top-quality cotton products.
Separately, USDA leaders hope the new agreement will provide a collaborative model to cultivate the long-standing partnership between the USDA and Texas Tech, and benefit the cotton industry on the South Plains, the national cotton industry and the university. "This agreement is the first of its kind for USDA, and we are excited to establish this partnership with Texas Tech University," said Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
Eric Hequet, a noted cotton fiber quality researcher and chair of Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, added that the partnership will provide students and researchers enhanced education and research opportunities in developing fiber measurement technology, automation and robotics, fiber phenomics, prototyping and calibration and for testing of new instruments and technology. Hequet is the recipient of this year's Joint Cotton Breeding Committee's Cotton Genetics Research Award.
Texas Tech is a world leader in cotton research, from seed to fabric. Led by the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute within Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, the work by researchers at the FBRI has led to the development of better cotton through the development of new technologies to precisely phenotype cotton fibers and the development of a line of 100 percent cotton bioproducts. Recently, a custom-built micro-gin that mimics full-sized gins was erected at the FBRI, giving researchers a better understanding of what cotton goes through in the ginning process.
CONTACT: William Brown, dean, College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
0702NM19 / Editor's Note: To view a background video on the ceremony and the project, please click here