Sericulture or Silk Farming

Sericulture is the process of raising silkworms for the purpose of producing silk. Agro-based industries include sericulture. In order to produce raw silk, which is the yarn made from cocoons spun by specific insect species, entails raising silkworms. Growing feeding plants for the silkworms that spin silk cocoons and reeling the cocoons to unwind the silk thread for value-added uses like processing and weaving are the main tasks of sericulture. The management and breeding of silkworms for the purpose of producing silk for the market is known as sericulture. The raising of silkworms on mulberry bushes, gathering and processing of silkworm cocoons to obtain raw silk fibers, and other activities comprise sericulture.

Entomology of silkworms:

The domesticated silk moth, Bombyx mori, produces the larva or caterpillar known as the silkworm. Being the main producer of silk, it is a significant insect from an economic perspective. Due to centuries of selective breeding, domestic silk moths are very reliant on humans for reproduction. Due to their lack of selective breeding, wild silk moths differ from their domestic cousins in that they are less economically feasible for the production of silk.

Five main varieties of silkworms exist:

1. Mulberry:. This species accounts for the majority of the commercial silk produced worldwide, and when people mention silk, they typically mean mulberry silk. Bombyx mori L., a silkwormPost Cocoon Sericulture Process Sericulture processing. Bombyx mori, a caterpillar that consumes mulberry leaves, is a domesticated silkworm that produces commercial silk. In the winter, the moth’s eggs are preserved and spread out on trays in a heated shed where they will eventually hatch. As soon as the worms appear, mulberry leaves are spread for them to devour. The worm begins spinning its cocoon on straw that has been placed on the trays after it has reached adulthood. Two spinneret-named pores, one on either side of the head, release the silk fluid produced by specific glands. As the liquid comes into contact with the air, it solidifies, forming two long strands that are stitched together using silk gum, mulberry silk. These silkworms are fully grown.

2. Tasar: Tasar (Tussah) is a coarse, copper-colored silk that is mostly used for interior decoration and furniture. It has a different feel and appeal than mulberry silk while being less shiny. Antheraea mylitta, a silkworm that mostly feeds on the food plants Asan and Arjun, produces tasar silk.

3. Oak Tasar: This finer kind of tasar is produced in India by the Antheraea proyeli J. silkworm, which eats abundantly in the sub-Himalayan region of India. Assam, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, and Pradesh. The majority of oak tasar produced worldwide comes from China.

4. Eri: –Contrary to other types of silk, Eri, also called Endi or Errandi, is a multivoltine silk spun from open-ended cocoons. The eri silk.

5. Muga: India is the rightful owner of this golden-yellow silk, which Assam state is particularly proud of. Antheraea assamensis, a semi-domesticated multivoltine silkworm, provides it. These silkworms are raised on trees resembling tasar and feed on the flavorful leaves of Som and Soalu plants. Products like  sarees, mekhalas, chaddars, etc. are made from high-quality muga silk.

Post Cocoon | Sericulture Process or Sericulture processing:

Bombyx mori, a caterpillar that consumes mulberry leaves, is a domesticated silkworm that produces commercial silk. In the winter, the moth’s eggs are preserved and spread out on trays in a heated shed where they will eventually hatch. As soon as the worms appear, mulberry leaves are spread for them to devour.

The worm begins spinning its cocoon on straw that has been placed on the trays after it has reached adulthood. Two spinneret-named pores, one on either side of the head, release the silk fluid produced by specific glands. As the liquid comes into contact with the air, it solidifies, forming two long strands that are stitched together using silk gum.

The manufacturing process:

1. Reeling: Reeling involves releasing the silk filament from the cocoon. The glue in the cocoons is softened by boiling them in water, which allows the filaments to unwind.

2. Throwing: Throwing is the process of weaving yarn by fusing many reeled strands together. A strong yarn is created by twisting a certain number of strands together.

3. Degumming: The gum that was once left on fibers to preserve them is now eliminated through boiling in soapy water. Occasionally, degumming is postponed until the fabric is woven. The same procedures for weaving other fibers apply to hemp as well.

4. Weighting: The method of “weighting” involves treating silk with specific metallic salts to add weight.

Is it sustainable?

Sericulture is an environmentally beneficial practice that benefits the environment. Five individuals are employed year-round by one acre of mulberry farming. Five thousand kg of vermicompost is produced annually from the wastes left over from mulberry and silkworm farming on a single hectare. Mulberry is a perennial crop that contributes to soil conservation and offers green cover thanks to its healthy leaf and root system. The waste from raising silkworms can be utilized as fertilizer for the mulberry garden. Smoke-emitting machinery is not used because this is a labor-intensive, primarily agricultural operation. Due to the deep-rooted perennial character of mulberries, development programs for their cultivation have primarily been started in upland areas, unoccupied lands, hill slopes, and watershed areas.

End Uses for Silk: Silk fabrics are renowned for their smooth, opulent feel, deep shine, warmth, durability, wrinkle resistance, strength, and outstanding draping qualities. From stiffer dresses and suiting cloth to heavier brocades to rich pile velvet, a wide variety of textiles are produced. For formal occasions, daytime or evening clothing, and lingerie.

Sadman Al Hasan
Campus Ambassador
Department of Apparel Manufacturing Technology
Institute of Science Trade and Technology

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