Sericulturists in India’s tropical zones often struggle to produce good yields in the summer months, but one scientist may have the solution.
Sericulture farmers in tropical zones such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal often struggle to provide good environmental conditions to rear silkworms during the summer months, thus getting poor or no cocoon yields.
Dr N. Sakthivel, a scientist at the Regional Sericultural Research Station, Central Silk Board in Salem, Tamil Nadu has come up with a solution to overcome this problem with a simplified fogging system for silkworm-rearing houses.
The fogging technique is widely used for controlling greenhouse climatic conditions. It works by reducing air temperatures and increasing humidity levels. This system is also successfully used in the poultry industry to manage hot weather, especially in Salem and the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu, since it helps birds from suffering heat stress.
Sakthivel attempted to assess the feasibility of utilising this fogging technology to maintain a good microclimate in silkworm-rearing houses and observed its impact on cocoon production.
The fogging system is set up beneath the roof by fitting one-way turnable brass foggers at a distance of five feet with half inch water with PVC pipelines distributed through it in three rows, one in the middle of the house and another two along the side walls. The system is operated by an HP pressure pump and the water comes out through the foggers in the form of fine mist, cooling the hot air in the rearing house and increasing the humidity to better suit the silkworms. The system can be connected to a thermo-hygrostat controller for automatic operation.
The total cost of the system is around Rs 15,000, including the pump. Since most farmers already own the pump system to help disinfect their silkworm-rearing sheds and appliances, they could use also use it for fogging purposes and save Rs 10, 000.
“The advantage of the fogging system is that it helps to maintain ample environmental conditions for the silkworm i.e. cool and humid conditions throughout the rearing period during the hot summer and to get a good cocoon yield,” says Sakthivel.
The required microclimate can be achieved with very low electric consumption, and the fog system is also very easy to operate and maintain.
Hot weather along with with water scarcity in the summer restricts cocoon productivity. The fogger system reduces rearing houses’ temperatures and increases humidity levels, providing a good solution to the problem of maintaining optimum microclimatic conditions for the better growth and development of the silkworms, and thus getting bumper crop during the summer.
“Hence, mass adoption of fogging system in silkworm rearing sheds in tropical zones could helps to improve the silk productivity of our nation in a greater extend and could also be a big remuneration to the sericulture farmers,” he explains.
M. Prabu, a young sericulturist in Pudupatty village, Rasipuram Taluk in Namakkal district has extended his support to Sakthivel to help him standardise the technology by giving Sakthivel his silkworm-rearing shed. He wants to help the inventor to refine the product into a user-friendly, effective system suitable for silkworms.
Prabu is a MBA graduate who is successfully self-employed in sericulture. He works to adopt all the advanced technologies introduced by the Central Silk Board and also guide other farmers on how to earn more income through sericulture.
After installing the fogging system, the cocoon yield from his farms has improved two folds and he harvests cocoons at an average of 90-120 kg per 100 egg layings during the summer. In contrast, others get below 50 kg or often face total crop failure. Now he has become an expert at guiding farmers in the installation of the fogging system and provides free consultation over the phone.