Azolla, which is scientifically known as Azolla sp. is a very important Species of Fern. Azolla pinnata is of commercial importance species which is widely used as fodder for livestock and other farm animals. Here we will know about some other Species of Azolla, Procedure of Production Azolla and Use of Azolla as Cattle Feed in Dairy and Poultry Farm.
Common Name: Azolla.
Other Names: Other names include duckweed fern, water fern, fairy grass.
Scientific Name: Azolla spp. Azolla pinnata for most used species.
Uses: As cattle feed in dairy and poultry farm.
What Is Azolla?
Azolla is an aquatic vegetation. Biologically it is a fern. It can grow only where water is available. It can also survive in marshland area.
It is a green fodder. If not used as fodder for livestock or for other purpose, it can become an aquatic weed in a stagnant water resources such as pond. Native place of different species is different. Most species have been originated from Asian and African countries.
What Is Fern? – Description for fern
Fern is a group of plants which contains viens. Propagation in fern is completed through both asexual reproduction (splitting) and sexual (spores). Many ferns are used as ornamental plants.
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Why Azolla ?
The role of azolla as cattle and poultry feed can be described in following points:
- Lack of fodder: Most farmers from different countries face one common problem that is unavailability or scarcity of fodder crops during off season. Farmers from the country like India, Pakistan, other Asian and African countries have to face this situation regularly. While the mass production of azolla can be taken in all season.
- Harvesting Time: Green fodder plants such as leafy trees and other seasonal fodder crops take long time to get close to their commercial stage. While the bloom of azolla can be achieved in only a week.
- Rich in Protein: Azolla is very rich in protein. Azolla contains up to 46% protein. It is responsible for rapid growth in body mass of goat and chicken.
- Organic Food: Azolla is more natural than other cattle feeds. It is simply grown in water tank without use of any type of pesticide. Cow dung is used as blooming agent.
- High Cost of Cattle Feeds: Concentrated cattle feeds are sold at very high price in market. Regular production of azolla can cut down the extra expenses of a farmer.
Table- 01. Different spp. of Azolla (Source- Articles and Literature of different KVKs, India).
|3.||A. cristata||America||Reddish colour|
|8.||A. nilotica||Nile river basin|
|9.||A. pinnata||Asia, Africa||Commonly used|
General Characteristics of Azolla
- The vegetative part of Azolla is green.
- It is reddish in some cases such as A. cristata.
- It is triangular in shape.
- Both Sexual (spores) and asexual (splitting) reproduction are present.
- It blooms well in warm and humid condition.
- It floats on the surface of water.
Importance of Azolla
- Production is easy.
- Rich in nutrients.
- It takes less time to bloom.
- Most important thing is that it is a special fodder which is used to feed all major farm animals e.g., cow, goat and poultry birds etc.
- It requires less area for cultivation.
- Production cost is very low.
Procedure of Production of Azolla
Note: Low cost production stands for a short time. HDPE Vermibeds of 450 GSM is very good as water holding structure for the production of azolla. It is UV Stabilised and has a Long Life Span about 4-5 Years with proper maintenance.
Standard Size: “21*4*1 feet” is the Standard Size Vermibeds for Azolla Tank.
The cultivation or production procedure of azolla is very simple. Step by step procedure is as fallows:
- Azolla– 1-10 kg of azolla is sufficient for a good scale production. The reproduction rate of azolla is very fast.
- Water tank– water tank is essential to hold water and blooming azolla.
- Cow dung– cow dung provides nutrition for this important fern.
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Collection of Azolla for Cultivation
The main thing in the production of azolla is ‘azolla’ itself. Azolla can be collected from any farmer or producer who is producing it in his farm. The main centres to buy azolla are different government departments such as agriculture department, veterinary department agriculture colleges and research station and kvk in India. It can also be purchased online from different online platform like- digital marketing shop e.g., Amazon, flipkart and snapdeal, Social media group e.g., Facebook and whatsapp etc.
Construction of Tank or Water Holding Body
Low Cost Structure
A ditch should be dug up to 1-1.5 feet depth. The ditch is fixed with a thik polythene sheet after digging the soil.
Cement or Commercial Tanks
Cement tanks are made using sand, cement and bricks. These tanks are used for the mass or commercial production of azolla. The size of a tank can be fixed according to requirement. Many tanks are connected with each other in large scale production. Go to top to see the connected cement tanks with each other.
Manuring Water Tank
Tank should be uniformly distributed with cow dung before filling with water. Quantity of cow dung depends on the size of tank and the amount of water. 1/4 (cow dung/water) or more of cow dung can be applied in a water tank. Quantity of cow dung doesn’t affect the production of flora, but minimum quantity should be considered.
Spreading Planting Material
It is a very simple process. Just spread the purchased azolla uniformly on the water surface.
Azolla is ready to be harvested within a week. Its vegetative growth is very fast.
How to Use Azolla as a Fodder?
Commercial use in livestock industries: The feeding behavior of different farm animal is different from each other. The fern is eaten by all farm animals. It should be cleaned properly from fresh water before feeding to farm animals. It can be mixed with other eatable materials such as rice bran when feeding dairy animals. Pure azolla is served to hen and chicken in poultry.
Scope in Fodder Marketing
- Demand of fodder is increasing day by day.
- Azolla can be sold as seed material and cattle feed in fodder market.
- Potential market should be explored.
Azolla is a very good option of cattle feed. It can substitute costly concentrated livestock feed. A farmer should always keep a small area free in his farm to produce azolla.
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