Coolidge inventor hopes to change cotton industry - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Coolidge inventor hopes to change cotton industry

July 18, 2005

Coolidge, Ga. -- Bill Willebe has invented a machine that he says will turn cotton scraps into paydirt for farmers. The best part of the "cotton stripper" is that it's cheaper and more economical to run than conventional pickers.

"This may very much turn into a total innovation of the cotton harvesting industry," said Co-inventor L. T.  "Sonny" Batts, Jr. "It will harvest the cotton that's remaining after the conventional machines."

The Cleve "Arm Breaker" Dean cotton stripper is named after a world champion arm wrestler from Pavo. But it's modeled after something rarely broken- the power of money.

"We feel like the cotton subsidies are going to be reduced." A concern co-inventor L. T. Batts, Junior says the stripper could change into a return.

"Because of the cost of going back and retrieving it with conventional machines, we can retrieve that cotton to put money, additional money, in the farmers' pocket at far less, one fifth of the cost, maybe less, than it could take a conventional machine to run back over and retrieve it," said Batts.

A lower cost method that works with a farm tractor's existing hydraulics and engine. It's also adaptable to conventional harvesting machines. "Just drop the conventional heads off, the high maintenance heads, and put the low maintenance harvesting heads on it."

Although this project isn't yet complete, farmers are excited about it on the front end, because they're anticipating that it will save them money on the back end.

Farmers like Franklin Smith, who's growing 966 acres of cotton this season, some of which will be missed by conventional pickers."I figure on using the first one of these he gets in the field." said Smith. "I'm hoping that it'll pick up a major part of that left over cotton."

Leftovers, that if the scrapper does it's job, could make Smith Fifty or sixty dollars an acre. That's income Batts says can pay for a stripper, which is going to go in the neighborhood of about $40,000 retail in one season, and then some.

Another improvement over conventional harvesters is that the stripper has less moving parts, which makes it easier to maintain. It should be available this season.

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