The Cotton Picking Story in Australia (Now with Higher Res Images)

Iconindustries

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The Cotton Picking Story in Australia. Now with Cotton Gin

Hey i have just finished helping my uncle with the cotton harvest (or as we call it 'cotton picking') I took my Camera along with me for a few days and took some pictures thinking that you guys on the forum may like to see how it is done. I downsized the pictures a great deal so they would upload quick but unfortunately the most of the clarity is missing but it gives you a good idea what happens anyway. Nuff talking lets get to it.


Firstly these are the cotton plants.


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Individual Cotton Boll

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The cotton picker is a very complicated machine with a system of hundreds of spindles spinning around with small barbs on them. The barbs catch on the cotton fibres and pull them out of the bolls. On the back of the cotton picker is a large basket and the cotton is forced up into it by a large fan.

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A view looking down on the cotton picker

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My job was to pick up the cotton from the picker when it is full and take it to another machine called the Module builder at the end of the field. My great cotton transporter is called the Boll Buggy. This is it.

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Here I am beside the Cotton Picker ready to take his load.

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Now for the module builder. It's a great piece of heavy weight Monstrosity designed to compact the cotton into a big block of compressed cotton literally. It has its own power plant and the operator controls a large hydraulic ram that goes up and down and back and forward compacting cotton.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641054160/" title="P1030297 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
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I have to drive my buggy right up close to the edge of the builder like this.

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Up i tip my basket until the cotton tips in. The basket has a hydraulic spinner that spins the cotton out as well.

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After about 7 basket loads are put in the builder and the operator has compacted each load as much as he can. It is finished. A module is made!
The module builder is lifted off the ground by the hydraulic rams on the wheels and the tractor connected on the builder takes it off the finished module.

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The module is then quickly tarped in case of rain.

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The end result. Nice and square and so compressed that you cant poke your finger into it. Each module ranges from 13-15 ton each and would have a net worth of about $10k.

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This season we made about 120 modules. We worked from about 9.30 in the morning when the dew had dried out and went straight through without stopping until about 10pm for about 3 weeks.


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The modules are then picked up by a truck with a special elevator floor and it transports them to the biggest cotton Ginnery in the Southern Hemisphere. And that's about 30klm down the road.

So now you know the basics of how it is done if you've never seen it before. I hope you enjoy reading and thankyou for looking.







icon
 

BBW

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Icon, thank you so much for this. You've given me a really interesting glimpse into part of your life, as well as how "cotton picking" is done down under - and you've also managed to take some really nice, aesthetically interesting photographs, as well.

Again, thanks for doing this Icon.:bravo-009:

Hope you got a break after this, too!
 

Pelao

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Cool. I am familiar with dairy, orchard and vegetable farming, but was, until now, ignorant around cotton. Those bales are simply huge.

Great story. Thanks.
 

Iconindustries

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Thanks, shooter,bbw,pelao, and grebman! What a surprise you gave me when I woke up in the morning and saw you had an interest in a part of my life. Thanks.

I thought I'd add a few extra pics showing the spindles located in what we call the 'head's on the cotton picker. They're a work of art really because each individual spindle turns and the whole drum rotates as well. All of this at high rpm (into the thousands) There are 4 heads containing 2 spindle drums each.

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See the little barbs on the spindle.


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The afternoon sun making the dust blowing out the top of the cotton picker basket look like its on fire.


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BBW

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Those spindles in that second photo look pretty serious to me.:eek: Vert cool photo, however.:wink:

You have a very different life from mine, and although I worked on a few farms during my college days they were nothing at all like yours or your Uncle's that's for sure. I really enjoy seeing life through other people's "eyes" via their photographs, Icon.:thumbup:
 

Boyzo

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Great series Icon... very interesting I learned from it.

Perhaps post from a gallery for max. quality
 

Boyzo

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Great shots too showing the spindles.

Imagine people picked cotton by hand :frown:

Love the last shot

Thanks, shooter,bbw,pelao, and grebman! What a surprise you gave me when I woke up in the morning and saw you had an interest in a part of my life. Thanks.

I thought I'd add a few extra pics showing the spindles located in what we call the 'head's on the cotton picker. They're a work of art really because each individual spindle turns and the whole drum rotates as well. All of this at high rpm (into the thousands) There are 4 heads containing 2 spindle drums each.

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See the little barbs on the spindle.


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The afternoon sun making the dust blowing out the top of the cotton picker basket look like its on fire.


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

thekeddi

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Great photos! Thanks for sharing your story, LOVE LOVE the afternoon shot!!!

I live in country South Australia, loads of farms around our town, farmers here have just seeded and we have just had a nice bit of rain for them :)
 

Iconindustries

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Thankyou so much guys for commenting and enjoying my story. I couldn't believe it when i woke up this morning and now when I get home from work I see so many nice words. Made my day.

Hey 'flash' or Gordon, your monitor is fine. It was just when i downsized my pictures it lost a lot of contrast and sharpness. So i signed up with 'Flickr' with a little encouragement from Boyzo and now i have linked all my photos from there. So now the images look like they should.


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flash

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Thankyou so much guys for commenting and enjoying my story. I couldn't believe it when i woke up this morning and now when I get home from work I see so many nice words. Made my day.

Hey 'flash' or Gordon, your monitor is fine. It was just when i downsized my pictures it lost a lot of contrast and sharpness. So i signed up with 'Flickr' with a little encouragement from Boyzo and now i have linked all my photos from there. So now the images look like they should.


icon
Ahhh.. that's better.

You should get these in front of some people in the cotton industry. They're exactly the kind of stuff used in annual reports and the like. Could actually end up paying for the camera if you find the right people.

Gordon
 

bilzmale

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Nice work Icon, when we travelled outback Qld a few years ago the roadsides were littered with tiny tufts of white fluff which we assumed was cotton. It sure is a highly mechanised way of farming. I learnt something too.
 

Tomo

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Hey! Great shots Brady. It's great to see others interested in it also :2thumbs:

One thing you haven't shown them is an aerial shot of the Cotton Gin - This one below (you took btw) is over head "Queensland Cotton" west of Cecil Plains.

The gin is a place where the cotton modules get processed, ie. cleaned and the seeds taken out of it, then compacted into smaller bails for transport.

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Iconindustries

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This years Cotton Season is nearly finished. Cotton will be defoliated soon (defoliation is a way of making the plant lose it's leaves) After defoliation will come the harvest. This year I will try to take some photos of the new John Deere Cotton Baler for you to see. Tonight I was going through some pictures I saw this one of our neighbours cotton being aerial sprayed at the start of the season. I fiddled around with the sliders and out came this....

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Iconindustries

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Sharing the different stages of the cotton fruit.

First comes the Square which houses the flower bud.
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Next, the flower.
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Beneath the flower a boll is formed. Notice the old flower is still on the end. The boll is quite hard like a ping pong ball.
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Starting to split.
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Right open.
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