Azolla is a fern that has several benefits and is now becoming popular due to its amazing properties. It can be used as moss over paddy fields to prevent dehydration of top soil and prevent penetration of sunlight, reducing weed growth in paddy fields, which is a major issue for farmers.
It is more popular for being a rich source for organic nitrogen enriching the soil.
Azolla cultivation is becoming popular in Viazaniagram nowadays as department has been given Rs 100 crore budget as part of convergence project under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Promotion of this fern is the major key component of this project.
Azolla cultivation is actually giving a major boost to animal husbandry department by implementing Azolla cultivation as its byproduct. The idea behind the project is that there are over seven lakh high yielding, cross bred and low grade cattle and buffaloes in the district owned by around two lakh farmers. Many of these farmers are of low income group who can adopt Azolla cultivation as an alternative source of income.
Growing Azolla is not a difficult task all it requires is an optimum temperature, which should be not more than 35oC AND AROUND 15 OC in order to promote good cultivation. Azolla can survive within a water pH range of 3.5 to 10, but optimum growth occurs in the pH range of 4.5 to 7 and temperature range of 18C. Under optimum conditions, azolla's growth spreads across the dam surface until it covers the surface of the water in a dense cover. It should be grown in ponds and tanks where the water is not free flowing.
In order to promote the scheme government need to support the cluster of farmers which is yet to be worked out.