Uncertainty in the price of agricultural products and the increasing cost of agricultural inputs, due to the decline in ground water level, the cost of agriculture has increased, this is the reason that in the last few years, the attractiveness of farmers is increasing in the form of a profession. To solve this problem Azolla’s cultivation can be very beneficial. Ajola is an important multicolored fern which is used as a fodder for animals, fish and poultry and its cost is also very low ($0.02 per Kg or Re1 per Kg). Azolla is a fast growing aquatic fern that floats like a dense green cluster in small groups on the surface of water. Azolla pinnata is found mainly in India. It is a heat-tolerant variety.
In Azolla’s petals, there is a microorganism of green coloured algae named Anabina, which compounds atmospheric nitrogen in the sun’s light and meets the nitrogen requirement in the form of green compost. The feature of Azolla is that it gets doubled in 5 days in a favorable environment. If it is allowed to grow throughout the year, more than 40 kg nitrogen per hectare can be grown.
There are 3.5 percent nitrogen and many types of organic matter in Azolla which increase the productivity of the soil. Azolla is a big step for the farmers to provide them better organic fertilizers at a lower cost. By feeding Azolla to the milch animals, the milk production and quality increases. Azolla does wonders for milch animals. It is proving boon for farmers’ livelihood.
Benefits of Azolla
Azolla biological green manure
It can be used easily in paddy fields. In the field full of 2 to 4 inches depth of water, 10 tons of fresh Azolla is broadcasted before the transplantation. At the same time, 30 to 40 kg superphosphate is also sprayed on top of it. The temperature of 30 to 35 °C is very favourable for its growth.
In the paddy field, Azolla also suppresses some of small weeds and its use increases production in paddy crop by 5 – 15 %. Azolla can convert atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen into carbohydrates and ammonia respectively, and after decomposition, provides nitrogen to the crop and provides biological carbon content in the soil.
The root system of oxygen crops produced in oxygenic light synthesis and other microorganisms available in the soil helps in respiration. This reduces the rate of evaporation from the irrigated farm of paddy.
Azolla can work as an alternative to chemical nitrogen fertilizers (20 kg / ha) to a limit and it enhances the yield and quality of the crop.
It also enhances the use of chemical fertilizers. By taking the water removed from Azolla field to the field of cultivation of vegetables, it acts as an increase regulator, increasing the production of vegetables and flowers.
Azolla serves as a great organic and green manure.
Azolla is a cheap, digestible and nutritious supplemental animal diet. By feeding it, fat and fat-free substances are found more in the milk of animals that eat normal diet. It has been found useful in the prevention of infertility in animals.
The problem of blood in animal urine is due to phosphorus deficiency. By feeding Azolla to animals, this shortage is removed. Calcium, phosphorus and iron need to be supplied in the animals from Azolla, which is good for the physical development of the animals. In Azolla, protein rich amino acids, vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B-12) and calcium, beta-carotene and mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium etc. are found abundantly.
It contains 40 to 60 % protein, 12 to 15 % filament, 10 to 15 % mineral and 7 to 10 % amino acids, bioactive substances and polymers, based on dry quantities. There contains a very low amount of carbohydrate and fat. Therefore its structure makes it an extremely nutritious and effective ideal animal diet.
Due to its high protein and low lignin elements, the cattle digest it easily. Not only this, Azolla can be used as diet for sheep, goats, rabbits and rabbits as well as ducks. 1.5 kg per animal can be given regularly, which works as a supplementary animal feed.
If the milch animal is given 1.5 to 2 kg of Azolla everyday, then 15-20% increase in milk production has been recorded and the quality of the cow-buffalo’s milk also gets better. Due to Azolla itself, thickening of cow-buffalo’s milk increases. If it is fed to cow-buffaloes, sheep, then it increases the efficiency of their production and reproduction power.
Azolla poultry diet
It is also a favourite diet of chickens. The use of Azolla as a poultry diet increases the growth of the weight of the broiler birds and also the production of egg. This is proving to be a very beneficial choice for poultry practitioners. Dried Azolla can also be used as a poultry feed as well as can be used as food for fish. It can be used as organic compost, mosquito repellent, salad and most of the bio-scavengers, because it removes all heavy metals.
Azolla production technology
First of all, in any shady place, dug 2 meters long 2 meters wide and 30 cm deep pothole. To prevent water leak, cover this pit with plastic sheets. As far as possible, the ultraviolet ray plastic seat should be used. Plastic sheat Silpolein is a polyethylene terepoline which holds resistant capacity for light ultraviolet rays. Azolla can also be grown in the cement tank. Using a plastic seat is not required in the cement tank.
On the pit 10 to 15 kg of clay soil is spread.
Put 10 litre water on the slurry sheet, mix it with 2 kg dung and 30 grams of super phosphate. More water is added to take the water level 10 cm.
After this 0.5 to 1 kg of pure Azolla innoculum is spread on the same surface. Immediately after spreading, fresh water should be sprinkled on Azolla to straighten the Azolla plants.
Within a week, Azolla spreads throughout and becomes like a thick sheet.
One should add 20 grams of super phosphate and about 1 kg cow dung once in 5 days for fast growth of Azolla and daily yield of 50 grams.
To increase the amount of minerals in Azolla, a micronutrient containing magnesium, iron, copper, sulphur etc. can also be added at intervals of one week.
To reduce the amount of nitrogen and to prevent the loss of micronutrients, about 5 kg of soil should be replaced with new soil once in 30 days.
When infected with pests and diseases, a new solution must be prepared and transmitted from the pure culture of the innoculam.
By increasing rapidly, Azolla will fill potholes in 10-15 days. Then 500-600 grams of Azolla can be harvested daily.
Plastic truffle or tray having a hole in the lower part can be done daily from the day after the 15th day.
To remove the odour of dung from the Azolla, was it with fresh water.
Precautions in Azolla production
For good yield, it is necessary to keep the environment free of infection.
For fast growing and production of Azolla, it needs to be taken out at a rate of about 200 grams per square meter for daily use.
Temperature is a key factor for good growth. Temperature should be around 35 °C and relative humidity should be 65.80 %. To reduce the effect of cold weather in cold areas, the feed should be covered with plastic sheets.
The pH of the medium should be between 5.5 and 7.
Suitable nutrients should be provided as per the requirement of micro nutrients.
At the intervals of 10 days, 25-30% of old Azolla water should be replaced by fresh water to prevent the excess of nitrogen.
Once in the interval of 6 months, the tank or pit should be completely cleaned and cleaned with fresh clay, dung, water and Azolla culture.