Azolla Cultivation In Nigeria & Introduction of Azolla Cultivation:
What is Azolla?
It is a free floating water fern consisting of a short, branched, floating stem, bearing roots which hang down in the water. kind of green fodder grown on water surface. Why the Azolla cultivation is increasing and becoming popular? Because, Azolla has many nutrient benefits when compared to other fodders. Apart from this, it has nature of fixing Nitrogen in rice crop field. This is the reason the Azolla is being used as common bio-fertilizer and green manure in rice fields. The blue-green algae grow in symbiotic association with this fern and are responsible for nitrogen fixation in the rice crop. Where can it be grown? Well, it can be cultivated in ponds, ditches and rice fields of warm-temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Azolla fodder is an excellent alternate feed supplement for livestock, poultry and fish. This is a boon for dairy farmers because; it drastically reduces the feed cost and results in increased milk yield. Though there are many species of Azolla, Azolla pinnata is popular among those. When it comes to nutrient value, Azolla possess high protein content, amino acids, vitamins, minerals (like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium). Azolla is a highly productive plant and it doubles its biomass in 4–10 days period, depending on conditions, and yield can reach up to 8–12 tonnes/ha in Asian rice fields.
Family Name of Azolla: Salviniaceae.
Botanical/Scientific Name of Azolla: A. filiculoides.
Common names of Azolla: Azolla, mosquito fern, duckweed fern, fairy moss, water fern, helecho mosquito.
Uses and Advantages of Azolla: The following are the benefits of Azolla;
- Azolla easily grows in wild environment and even can be grown under controlled environment like polyhouse and greenhouse.
- Azolla can be grown in large quantities, if requires and used as green manure in both Rainy and Dry seasons.
- Azolla can fix atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen to form carbohydrates and ammonia respectively. After decomposition it adds available nitrogen to the soil.
- Azolla solubilises Zn, Fe and Mn and make them available to the rice in the field.
- Azolla helps in weed control and suppresses tender weeds such as Chara and Nitella in rice field.
- In an all natural way, Azolla releases plant growth regulators and vitamins which are very much required to enhance the growth of paddy crop.
- Azolla helps increase the crop yield and quality.
- Azolla reduces water evaporation rate from the irrigated rice field.
- When used as supplemental feed in dairy, it helped to increase the milk yield.
Biomass & Nutritional Value Of Azolla
When Compared with Other Grasses/Fodders: