The automated facility is a unique collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an institute of higher learning.
Texas Tech University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today (Sept. 14) cut the ribbon on a first-of-its-kind cotton classing facility on Texas Tech's campus.
The 30,000-square-foot facility, located across the street from The Rawls Course, is equipped with the latest automated technology and represents the first cotton classing facility located on the campus of an institution of higher education.
“Texas Tech is a world leader in cotton research, and this facility provides many opportunities for our faculty and students to advance the work that is of critical importance to this region,” said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. “We are proud to partner with the United States Department of Agriculture on this historic cotton classing facility, which will positively impact the cotton industry in West Texas and beyond.”
Ground was broken on the facility in 2019, with construction on the project starting in 2020. Delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues slowed progress, but the new facility is now fully operational.
The Cotton Classification Complex has the capacity to process more than 50,000 cotton samples per day and is among the largest cotton classing facilities in the nation. According to the USDA, the 10 cotton classing facilities across the country processed just over 17 million samples in 2021, with the new facility in Lubbock expected to help boost that number.
“This new cotton classing facility is an exciting collaboration between USDA and Texas Tech University,” said Bruce Summers, administrator for the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS). “Our partnership will serve the U.S. cotton industry by grading almost 20% of the cotton produced in the country and, at the same time, offer internship and employment opportunities to Texas Tech students and others in the Lubbock area.
"Congratulations to the AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program and the Texas Tech team, I look forward to seeing the impacts of this collaboration.”
Cotton classing facilities measure and classify cotton by its specific physical attributes, enabling the cotton to be marketed by producers and giving precise information to consumers regarding the cotton fibers.
The Cotton Classification Complex on Texas Tech's campus will provide students and researchers with enhanced education and research opportunities in developing fiber measurement technology, automation and robotics, fiber phenomics, prototyping and calibration, and for testing of new instruments and technology.
“I'm pleased to be here today to open this new state-of-the-art cotton classification complex on the Texas Tech campus,” said Darryl W. Earnest, deputy administrator of the USDA's AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program. “This culminates a long journey of planning, contracting and construction of the most modernized facility in the program's fleet.
“This facility will join our other regional locations across the U.S. in providing reliable cotton grading services to help ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. cotton industry. Congratulations to the AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program and the Texas Tech team, I look forward to seeing the impacts of this collaboration.”