My Experiments With Azolla

Did you say mozzarella…you make cheese?

A friend asked me a few minutes after he had stepped into the farm while I was elaborating on my new project—growing Azolla.

Most people who have never been associated with farming and even those who have taken to it newly hardly know anything about the fastest growing plants on the planet.

Azolla tank at my farm

It has taken me close to a month and two failed attempts to have Azolla growing on my farm.

I’m told several coffee growers and other crops grown in natural ‘tree-shade’ environments in Kerala and Karnataka uses Azolla as biofertiliser. That’s what piqued my interest in Azolla. Azolla has enormous potential to sequester of atmospheric COdue to its rapid growth in freshwater without the need for a soil-based nitrogen source.

Azolla does not need any soil to grow. Unlike almost all other plants, Azolla is able to get its nitrogen fertiliser directly from the atmosphere. That means that it is able to produce biofertiliser, livestock feed food and biofuel exactly where they are needed and, at the same time, draw down large amounts of  CO2  from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce the threat of climate change. You read it right my Azolla tank sequesters carbon oxide from the atmosphere. That’s my humble contribution to resilient and sustainable agriculture. Presently, I’m using the biofertiliser for my betel leaf, avocado and coconut. According to Azolla Foundation to 32.54 metric tonnes CO2/hectare/year after 18 days growth can be sequestered.

It doesn’t take much to grow Azolla. It can be grown in a pond or a water tank. You need the following:

·         3 to 5 kg for Azolla

·         Soil or vermicompost

·         Rock phosphate or Single Super Phosphate

·         Cow dung slurry

After a week your Azolla is ready to be harvested, every third day. If not harvested regularly Azolla starts getting rotted. Check out this excellent video by a friend for guidance.

As said earlier it’s an excellent feed for goat, cow and poultry and reduces the cost of commercial cattle feed by 25 per cent.


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