• Cotton producers often have difficulty finding adequate labor during harvest. Module builder operators are often inexperienced and may build poorly shaped modules. Equipment manufacturers have recently introduced harvesters with on-board module building capabilities to reduce labor requirements; however, this feature is only available on picker harvesters and significantly increases purchase cost. Conventional module builders offer automatic tramping systems as an option, but these systems do not distribute cotton in the builder or prevent cotton from being pushed out of the builder by the tramper. The objective of this research was to develop an autonomous module forming system by retrofitting a conventional module builder. Sensors were installed on a module builder to determine the position of the carriage, tramper, and location of cotton in the module builder. An algorithm was developed to control electro-hydraulic valves so cotton was properly distributed and compressed in the module builder. The boll buggy operator could remotely control the system using a wireless display. The autonomous system constructed modules with a 64% smaller water collection area in an average time of 37.4 min. Cotton producers indicated that the system was simple to use and significantly reduced labor requirements. The autonomous system can construct quality modules and reduce labor requirements with only a small additional investment in equipment.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hardin, R. G., & Searcy, S. W.

publication date

  • July 2011