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Vacuum-Powered Cotton Picker Promises To Boost Profits
If their brainchild works out, Randy Thompson and Jimmy Bell will have taken a quantum leap in cotton harvesting, similar to the revolution that occurred when picking was first mechanized.
Over the past year, Thompson, a retired Sycamore, Georgia, farmer, inspired by an idea from Bell, has designed and built a picker that actually pulls cotton bolls off plants without pulling plant parts through the machine. Essentially it works like a vacuum cleaner. Thompson had a working model in the field last fall and continued to refine the machine over the winter.
Over the years, there have been a few attempts to build an air or vacuum-powered cotton picker, but none have ever been successful.
The only moving parts in Thompson and Bell's header are a centrifugal fan and a rotating drum that extracts cotton from the boll.
"Current cotton pickers are heavy and costly to make," Thompson says. "Our header weighs considerably less per row, requires less power, and results in cleaner, better quality lint. It won't break up the staple like the finger mechanisms we're now using. And it won't pull in plant parts like stripper heads do.
"Overall harvest costs should be reduced by 9 to 12 cents per pound," he says.
Thompson and Bell have been granted a provisional patent on the process. Additional patents are expected on some of the components. They've had assistance from Georgia Tech ag engineers and others in working out the design. And a manufacturing company has already expressed interest in manufacturing the Thompson-Bell machine.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Randy Thompson, 8794 Denham Road, Sycamore, Ga. 31790 (ph 229 831-4795; E-mail: dianet@surfsouth.com).

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2001 - Volume #25, Issue #3