Importance of Azolla in Paddy Cultivation
As a bio-fertiliser, Azolla fixes atmospheric nitrogen and stores it in leaves, therefore it is used as green manure. It has been observed that Azolla in the paddy farm increases rice output by 20%. The nutritional value in azolla is very rich in protein (25%-35%), calcium (67 mg/100 g) and iron (7.3 mg/100 g).
Advantages of Azolla
1. It grows easily in the wild and can also grow under controlled conditions.
2. In both seasons – Kharif and Rabi – it can be easily produced in large quantities required as green manure.
3. It can fix atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen to form carbohydrates and ammonia respectively and after decomposition, it adds available nitrogen for crop uptake and organic carbon content to the soil.
4. The oxygen produced owing to oxygenic photosynthesis enables the crops' root system respiration as well as other soil microorganisms.
5. It solubilizes Zn, Fe and Mn and makes them available to the rice.
6. Azolla suppresses tender weeds such as Chara and Nitella in a paddy field.
7. Azolla releases plant growth regulators and vitamins that improve rice plant growth.
8. Azolla can to some extent be a substitute for chemical nitrogen fertilizers (20 kg / ha) and it increases crop yield and quality.
9. It increases the efficiency of chemical fertilizers to be used.
10. It reduces the rate of evaporation from the irrigated rice field.
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