Cotton Bests Other Spray-On
Summit Seed, Inc., employee Dan Pralle sprays a test plot with
one of the cotton-based hydromulches developed during the research study on
value-added processing of cotton gin byproducts.
Research Service agricultural engineer Greg Holt helped develop the
erosion-control industry’s first cotton byproduct hydromulch
Developed in cooperation with Cotton Incorporated of Cary,
North Carolina, and Mulch & Seed Innovations of Centre, Alabama, GeoSkin
Cotton Byproduct Hydromulch is made from cotton gin byproducts.
Hydromulch is the name for the bright-green slurry sprayed on
bare land at construction sites and roadside projects to prevent erosion until
vegetation can be established. Hydromulches are typically made from wood or
paper byproducts or a blend of the two. Commercial roll-on blankets made of
straw, wood, or coconut are also used to control erosion.
The cotton byproduct hydromulch is a combination of a
hydromulch and an erosion-control blanket. In tests by Holt, it controlled
erosion better than conventional roll-on blankets and required significantly
In tests of four types of mulches, total runoff—which
included soil and mulch ingredients—was 7,832 pounds per acre from straw;
7,474 pounds per acre from wood; 3,719 pounds per acre from coconut; but just
222 pounds per acre from the cotton byproduct hydromulch.
The cotton byproduct hydromulch spray-on blanket was produced
by a mechanical process known as the “cross-linked biofiber
process.” It was developed from the cooperative research efforts of ARS,
Cotton Incorporated, Summit Seed Incorporated of Manteno, Illinois, and Mulch
& Seed Innovations. ARS has applied for a patent on the process.
Previously, Holt had used the ARS-patented Cotton Byproducts
(COBY) process as a low-cost way to develop cotton waste into products such as
The new technology has served as a foundation for developing a
broader line of cotton byproduct hydromulches for erosion control, including a
premium hydromulch for steep slopes, and more recently, a midgrade product for
flat- to midslope terrain.
Holt conducted a study in which cotton-based hydromulches
established a good stand of grass. Other hydromulches and a straw
erosion-control blanket did not do as well.
Holt is at the ARS Cotton Production and Processing Research
Unit in Lubbock, Texas. Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland
cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and
marketing organization representing upland cotton. The organization partly
funded some of Holt’s studies, which also involved farm consultant Brent
Busenlehner; ARS colleague Ken Potter in Temple, Texas; and Elizabeth Guertal,
a professor at the Department of Agronomy and Soils, within Auburn
University’s College of Agriculture.
“Development of this cotton byproduct hydromulch is part
of ARS’s overall efforts to convert cotton waste from a financial
liability to a revenue stream,” Holt says. “The financial liability
includes the costs of disposal or combustion of the gin-waste pile. Cotton gin
byproducts are actually a valuable resource whose nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium
content and porous, absorbent, and biodegradable structure are ideal
characteristics for a seed starter.”—By
Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
This research is part of Quality and Utilization of
Agricultural Products, an ARS national program (#306) described on the World
Wide Web at www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
Gregory A. Holt
is in the USDA-ARS
Production and Processing Research Unit, 1604 E. FM 1294, Lubbock, TX
79403; phone (806) 746-5353, fax (806) 746-5028.
"Cotton Bests Other Spray-On Erosion-Control
Mulches" was published in the
issue of Agricultural Research magazine.