Fountain, Byler Receive National Ginner Awards
Kent Fountain, managing partner of Southeastern Gin and Peanut in Surrency, GA, and a tireless leader in the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA), Southeastern Ginners and National Cotton Council, is the 2016 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year.
Rick Byler, research leader of the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Cotton Ginning Research Unit at Stoneville, MS, is the recipient of NCGA’s 2016-17 Charles C. Owen Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have provided a career of distinguished service to the U.S. ginning industry.
The Ginner of the Year award is presented annually to a ginner in recognition of able, efficient and faithful service to the ginning industry, and continuing those principles exemplified and practiced by Horace Hayden, a former NCGA executive secretary.
Since coming under Fountain’s direction, Southeastern Gin and Peanut has grown steadily, with recent per year ginning averages of 70,000-plus bales. Fountain also oversees the firm’s other facilities, including the recently-founded Premium Peanut, LLC, which is a state-of-the-art peanut shelling facility.
Fountain has held multiple industry leadership positions. He has chaired Southeastern Ginner’s Technology Committee and has been the long-time chair of its Budget Committee. He currently serves as that organization’s president, after having served as an officer for several years. He also is a past president and chairman of the NCGA and has chaired of all of its committees.
A graduate of the National Cotton Council’s Leadership Program, Fountain currently serves as the Council’s ginner vice president, chairs its Cotton Quality Committee and is a past and current member of other Council committees.
An Ohio native, Byler received agricultural engineering degrees from Ohio State University, Penn State University and Michigan State University. He served as an assistant professor of engineering at Virginia Tech for seven years before joining USDA.
Byler holds three patents and has published more than 50 journal articles and some 150 conference proceedings papers, primarily on cotton ginning. His extensive research on cotton moisture measurement, transfer, and quality effects have had a significant impact on the cotton industry.
His expertise in instrumentation and controls was crucial to the development of the gin process control system that was commercialized as Intelligin, and he developed a device to accurately measure moisture content in cotton classing samples.
Byler worked with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to develop algorithms to adjust the measured strength value based on moisture content, greatly reducing conditioning needs. From his studies on the effect of seed cotton moisture content during ginning, he found that higher moisture content resulted in improved length properties.
While much of his research has focused on moisture issues, Byler has conducted other research to improve fiber quality, determine the feasibility of high-speed roller ginning in the Mid-South, examine the effect of maturity on fiber damage during ginning, and search for new ways to remove plastic contamination at the gin.
Source – National Cotton Ginners Association