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Mechanization

Techniques and technologies for mechanisation in mulberry sericulture
 
 
The mulberry sericulture comprises of mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing for silk cocoon production. CSRTI, Mysore has worked for last 20 years and developed many technologies, mulberry plantation methods, tools, equipments and machines for mechanisation in various activities of silk production and they are described in following sections. 
 
Technologies for mechanisation in mulberry cultivation:
 
Mulberry cultivation is very important in sericulture. A good quality of mulberry leaves leads to production of good quality and silk rich cocoons. In recent years, the cost of production of mulberry leaves has increased due to increase in labour wages and cost of inputs like fertilisers and water. Nearly, 60 -70 % of the cost of production of silk cocoons goes for production of mulberry leaf. In mulberry leaf production, over 65-70 % expenditure goes for labour wages for intercultural and other operations. Hence, to reduce the cost of production of silk cocoons, we must reduce cost of production of mulberry leaves. An appropriate mechanisation through adoption of tools, equipments and machines for land preparation, cutting preparation, intercultural operations, chemical spraying and shoot harvesting etc. can reduce the cost of mulberry leaf production atleast by 35-40 %. Hence, the cost of silk cocoon production can be reduced atleast by 25 to 30 % through appropriate mechanisation in most of the mulberry cultivation activities. Moreover, the mechanised mulberry cultivation will also enable the farmers to expand the area under mulberry so they rear more number of silkworms. Thus mechanisation will help farmers to earn more money through sericulture. India will also get quality silk with less burden of imported silk.
 
(a)  Land preparation for new mulberry plantation:
 
Under tropical conditions, the mulberry is a perennial crop. Once planted, it lasts for 12-15 years. Therefore, the land for mulberry should be thoroughly prepared before plantation. Tractor operated subsoiler can be a very useful and effective equipment for breaking the hard pans and loosening the soil upto depth of 40-45 cm. The subsoiler also helps in harvesting and conserving rainwater in soil. Operation of subsoiler in existing mulberry gardens is also useful as it will loosen the soil, break hardpans, increase infiltration rate and water holding capacity of soil, allow inputs like FYM, fertilisers to go to root zone, etc. 
 
Land for new mulberry plantations can be prepared faster and at less cost by using tractor operated mouldboard or disc plough, cultivators and harrows.  A thorough land preparation helps in faster establishment of mulberry plants


Mouldboard and disc ploughs in operation for land preparation for a new plantation of mulberry.

 
(b)  Mulberry cutting preparation:
 
Mulberry plants are propagated through cuttings. Most of the farmers use bill hook for preparation of cuttings. A worker generally makes 1,500 to 2,000 cuttings in a day. With help of mulberry cutting preparation machine developed by CSRTI, Mysore 1,400 to 1,500 cuttings can be prepared in one hour. The machine reduces drudgery in cutting preparation.  
 

 
(C)  Mulberry plantations and intercultural operations:
 
Intercultural operations in a mulberry garden require lot of manpower and time. In conventional plantations like 90cm x 90cm (3’x3’), it is not possible to use machines and intercultural operations have to be carried out manually. This involves high cost and need more time to carry out the work.
 
CSRTI, Mysore developed plantation geometries like Paired row {(90cm + 150cm) x 60 cm} and 3M {(120cm+90cm+90cm) x (120cm+90cm+90cm)} to facilitate partial and full mechanised operations, respectively in mulberry gardens.
Paired row plantation
 

3M plantation
 
A farmer can carryout intercultural operations in paired row or 3M mulberry gardens with help of a tractor operated cultivator, power tiller operated rotavator or a cultivator, power weeders, etc. The mechanised cultivation reduces cost of leaf production and permits carry out work at faster rate.  The paired row and 3M plantations enable farmers to go for large mulberry gardens so that they can rear more number of silkworms and increase their earnings from sericulture. The paired row mulberry plantation has been adopted by a large number of the farmers in the states of Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhrapradesh, Maharastra and Madhyapradesh. 
 


Mechanised intercultural operations in mulberry gardens

Cost of intercultural operations in mulberry gardens
 Method of OperationTime/ Manpower RequiredOperation Cost (Rs./ha)Cost Reduction (%)
1.Manual weeding42-mandays3,360.00--
2.Bullock ploughing80 h/ha bullock ploughing + 8 man-days/ha2,560.0030
3.Power tiller operated weeder in Paired row plantation21 h/ha tiller ploughing + 40 h/ha Bullock ploughing2,680.0025
4.Tractor ploughing in Paired row plantation5 h/ha tractor+ 40 h/ha Bullock ploughing2,250.0050
5.Tractor ploughing in 3M plantation6.6 h/ha tractor1,650.00100
 
(d)  Spraying of chemicals in a mulberry garden:
 
Many pests and diseases causing crop loss and also deterioration in quality of the leaf infest mulberry plants. Timely control of diseases and pests is very much required for production of healthy mulberry leaves. Many farmers use growth promoters to improve quality of leaf. Farmers generally used knapsack hand operated or motorized sprayers for chemical application. Farmers can spray chemicals uniformly in less time with help of self-propelled CSRTI sprayer, TNAU power tiller mounted sprayer and ASPEE tractor mounted sprayers. 
 

Different equipment and machines for chemical applications in mulberry gardens
 
Cost of chemical application in mulberry gardens
 Type of SprayerTime required / hectareSpraying COST (RS./HA)COST REDUCTION thru Mechanization
1.
Knapsack – Hand operated
12.5 Hrs600.00--
2.Knapsack – Power operated 4.0 Hrs175.00250
3.TNAU power tiller sprayer2.0 Hrs300.00100
4.CSRTI – self propelled sprayer2.2 Hrs150.00300
5.ASPEE tractor mounted sprayer0.6 Hrs170.00250
 
 
(e)  Mulberry Shoot harvesting:
 
These days shoot rearing has become very popular in Southern India, Maharastra and Madhyapradesh as its saves labour, time and expenditure. It also facilitates large-scale silkworm rearing. Indian farmers use traditional sickle, serrated sickle, and single action pruning saw for harvesting mulberry shoots. CSRTI, Mysore tested knapsack type bush cutters for mulberry shoot harvesting. About 600-800 kg shoots can be harvested in one hour. The institute has also developed a power tiller operated mulberry shoot harvester for medium and large farms. It works well in paired row plantation and can harvest 1,000-1,200 kg shoots per hour.


                Mulberry portable prunner                                         Power tiller operated mulberry shoot harvester