Azolla, an aquatic water fern, is grown in flooded rice fields in China and Vietnam. A little depth of water plus a shady, nutrient rich environment gives Azolla that green color. Otherwise, it is a reddish brown. Today, we are growing a dense mat of Azolla in ponds in south India. Azolla is making the agricultural news headlines! Credit goes to the nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria (blue green algae) that live in cavities located on the lower part of upper lobes of the leaves. These trap 3-5 Kg. of atmospheric nitrogen per day!
Fortified with rich nutrients, Azolla has only one option- it doubles it’s weight in just 3-5 days! It is a natural green ‘rich’ fertilizer. Too much of it? No problem. Just use it as compost on dryland for crops and vegetables. Feed it to the ducks, pigs and fish! Use it as cattle feed. We get more milk with a richer protein content. You can eat healthy food too. Just put Azolla into that salad or sandwich! What else? A dense Azolla mat is a mosquito repellant. It smothers the wriggly pond mosquito larvae!
Azolla ponds yield 9 tonnes of protein per hectare per year! The symbiotic relationship between Azolla and blue-green alga is benefiting man. A classic case of you scratch my back, I scratch yours!