>>Allison Hirth, Reporting: THIS MAY LOOK LIKE A LITTLE BIT OF TRASH IN A PRETTY BIG FIELD, BUT IT’S CAUSING SOME SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS FOR THE COTTON INDUSTRY.>>John Wanjura, Agricultural Engineer, USDA: Probably the major problem that’s facing the U.S. cotton industry is contamination and specifically plastic contamination.>>Allison Hirth: JOHN WANJURA WORKS FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. HE SAYS THE PLASTIC CONTAMINATION OFTEN COMES FROM THE WRAP USED TO PROTECT COTTON MODULES. IT COMES IN OTHER SHAPES AND SIZES TOO.>>John Wanjura: Whether it’s shopping bags or drink containers, whatever kind of man-made materials that show up out there in these cotton fields, how do we keep those out of the cotton, specifically out of the harvester headers and out of the flow of cotton?>>Allison Hirth: A GROUP OF TEXAS TECH STUDENTS THINKS IT MAY HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER.>>Brett Brorman, Student: Basically, keeping the harvester from picking up the plastic.>>Allison Hirth: BRETT BRORMAN IS A SENIOR MAJORING IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING. AFTER SEVERAL IDEAS, HE, ALONG WITH HIS TEAM, CAME UP WITH THIS.>>Brett Brorman: The design we have now, it pushes over the cotton stalk and then it goes underneath the row unit a little bit– like the row unit will be right here and then the cotton plant will basically just slide right underneath the row unit and not get picked up by the harvester.>>Andrea Ruiz, Student: We ended up going with kind of like a skid plate that would just cover the header so plastic doesn’t go inside a cotton harvester.>>Allison Hirth: THEY SPENT TWO SEMESTERS DESIGNING, BUILDING AND TESTING THE PRODUCT, AND IT WORKS.>>John Wanjura: This is really the first device that’s been designed and actually implemented on a harvester that does this function, that actually helps to prevent that material from getting in the flow of cotton and going on into the harvester and on into the gin and further downstream processing.>>Allison Hirth: THE TEAMS SAYS IT’S LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THE PROJECT– OPENING THEIR EYES TO HOW ENGINEERING IMPACTS AGRICULTURE.>>Andrea Ruiz: It’s really important to work as a team and listen to different ideas– not shut down any ideas that you think are not going to work.>>Brett Brorman: It takes a lot of iterations to get to something worth producing, and, you know, it takes a lot to get something perfect and even ours isn’t perfect.>>Allison Hirth: AND THEIR HARD WORK MAY JUST PAY OFF. WITH SOME ADJUSTMENTS, WANJURA SAYS THE PRODUCT MAY MAKE COTTON MORE PROFITABLE FOR PRODUCERS.>>John Wanjura: Being able to tap into that resource of young, creative minds is something that’s greatly needed in our industry. They’ve got great engineering skills, and they have bright futures ahead of them, and so from our standpoint, it’s a great partnership to work with Texas Tech.>>Allison Hirth: FOR TEXAS TECH TODAY, I’M ALLISON HIRTH.