Azolla Cultivation Information Guide

Azolla Cultivation Guide:

Azolla Cultivation.
Azolla Cultivation.

Introduction of Azolla Cultivation:- What is Azolla? Well, it is nothing but a free floating water fern consisting of a short, branched, floating stem, bearing roots which hang down in the water. It’s kind of green fodder grown on water surface. Why the Azolla cultivation is increasing and becoming popular? Because, Azolla has many nutrient benefits when compared to other fodders. Apart from this, it has nature of fixing Nitrogen in rice crop field. This is the reason the Azolla is being used as common bio-fertilizer and green manure in rice fields. The blue-green algae grow in symbiotic association with this fern and are responsible for nitrogen fixation in the rice crop. Where can it be grown? Well, it can be cultivated in ponds, ditches and rice fields of warm-temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Azolla fodder is an excellent alternate feed supplement for livestock, poultry and fish. This is a boon for dairy farmers because; it drastically reduces the feed cost and results in increased milk yield. Though there are many species of Azolla, “A. pinnata” is popular among those. When it comes to nutrient value, Azolla possess high protein content, amino acids, vitamins, minerals (like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium). Azolla is a highly productive plant and it doubles its biomass in 4–10 days period, depending on conditions, and yield can reach up to 8–12 tonnes/ha in Asian rice fields. Let us talk about more about growing Azolla in this write-up.

Family Name of Azolla:- Salviniaceae.

Botanical/Scientific Name of Azolla:- A. filiculoides.

Common names of Azolla:- Azolla, mosquito fern, duckweed fern, fairy moss, water fern (English); helecho mosquito, helecho de pato, helecho de agua (Spanish); Algenfarne (German); bèo hoa dâu (Vietnamese); 满江红 (Chinese); अजोला (Hindi); அசோலா (Tamil); അസോള (Malayalam); آزیریان (Persian); Азолла (Russian); แหนแดง (Thai), アカウキクサ属 (Japanese);

Uses and Advantages of Azolla:- The following are uses and advantages of Azolla.

Advantages of Azolla.
Advantages of Azolla.
  • Azolla easily grows in wild environment and even can be grown under controlled environment like polyhouse and greenhouse.
  • Azolla can be grown in large quantities, if requires and used as green manure in both Kharif and Rabi seasons.
  • Azolla can fix atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen to form carbohydrates and ammonia respectively. After decomposition it adds available nitrogen to the soil.
  • Azolla solubilises Zn, Fe and Mn and make them available to the rice in the field.
  • Azolla helps in weed control and suppresses tender weeds such as Chara and Nitella in rice field.
  • In natural way, Azolla releases plant growth regulators and vitamins which are very much required to enhance the growth of paddy crop.
  • Azolla helps increase the crop yield and quality.
  • Azolla reduces water evaporation rate from the irrigated rice field.
  • When used as supplemental feed in dairy, it helped to increase the milk yield.

Biomass and protein content Azolla Cultivation, when compared with other grasses/fodders:

Fodder Annual production of bio- mass (MT/ha)


Dry matter (MT/ha)


Protein content (%)


Sorghum 40 3.3 0.6
Hybrid Napier 250 50 4
Cowpea 35 7 1.5
Lucerne 80 16 3.4
Subabool 80 16 3.3
Kolakattao grass


40 8 0.8
Azolla 1000 80 24

Growing Conditions for Azolla Cultivation:- Azolla can be grown or found in ditches, ponds and wetlands of warm temperate and tropical regions. Azolla prefers shade and requires light (30 to 50 % light required for its growth) for photosynthesis. As we all know this (Azolla) is water based crop, one should ensure sufficient water for its cultivation. It is always recommended to have at least 5 inches of water in pond for proper growth of Azolla. Azolla grows well where the optimum/ideal temperature range is 20°C to 35°C. Higher temperatures above 36°C will seriously affect the multiplication of Azolla. For better yield and quality of Azolla, it requires the water pH value of 5.0 to 7.0 and relative humidity of 80 to 90%. Too much of acidic conditions or alkalinity has a negative impact on the growth of Azolla (fern). When it comes to requirement of nutrients, Azolla absorbs the nutrients from water and phosphorus is most important element. Usually, 20 to 25 ppm of phosphorus in the water is optimum. It is also essential to apply micro-nutrients which can improve the multiplication and growth of Azolla.

Azolla in Paddy Field.
Azolla in Paddy Field.

Azolla Cultivation:- For Azolla production, it requires a shallow pond. Let us discuss more about Azolla growing in fresh water ponds.

  • Location of Pond in Azolla Cultivation: The pond location plays major role in Azolla cultivation. Make sure to have location where you can monitor on regular basis. As this requires good water supply, choose a location near to good water source. Basically, Azolla prefers partial shade, hence one should select the location where partial shade is expected or create the partial shade to cover the location. This partial shade helps in better growth of Azolla and preventing water evaporation. Make sure to have pond bottom free from any pointed stones, thorns that can damage or puncture the sheet place at the bottom of pond. 
  • Construction of Pond in Azolla Cultivation: Size of the pond varies from farmer to farmer and mainly depends on how much quantity of Azolla is expected to feed the livestock. In case of small holders, you can go for 6 feet x 4 feet for growing Azolla. This can produce 1 kg of supplemental feed/day. The pond should be cleaned thoroughly and levelled. Use bricks to construct side walls of pond (Even you can use raised embankment with the excavated soil). Place durable plastic sheet at the bottom of the pond and secure all the sides of sheet by placing bricks over the side walls. The pond should also be secured with a net to prevent the fall of leaves and other debris into the pond. This net also provides partial shade which is very essential in Azolla cultivation. In order to secure this net, place wooden poles or bamboo sticks over the pond walls. Place stones or bricks on the edges for securing the plastic sheet and net.
  • Growing (Production) of Azolla: Mix clean fertile soil with cow dung and water and spread across (uniformly) the pond. To cover the 6 feet X 4 feet pond, 1 kg of fresh Azolla culture is required. Apply this culture uniformly in the pond. Make sure to have the water depth at least 5 to 6 inches in the pond. For fast growth of Azolla, you can tap the rain water during monsoon season. Another important factor to consider in Azolla cultivation is not to have high content of salt in pond water which can adversely affect the growth of Azolla. If you are growing the Azolla, it is better to test the water for Alkalinity and acidic properties.
  • Pond Maintenance in Azolla Cultivation: For ensuring better growth of Azolla, apply 1 kg of cow dung and 100 to 120 grams of super phosphate once in 2 weeks. Make sure to remove any weeds formed in the pond regularly. The pond should be emptied once in 6 to 8 months and cultivation of Azolla has to be restarted with fresh culture and soil.
  • Harvesting and Feeding Azolla Cultivation: Usually, Azolla will be ready for harvesting in 2 to 3 weeks after stalling the culture in the pond. Azolla can be harvested daily after its full growth. Plastic sieves should be used to harvest the biomass from the pond’s surface. One can obtain on an average, 1 kg of fresh Azolla per day from the size of 4 feet x 6 feet pond. Harvested Azolla can be fed directly or mixed with nutrients and fed to livestock like cattle (dairy), sheep, goat, pigs, poultry and rabbits. Azolla in dried form can also be fed to livestock. Before feeding Azolla to livestock, clean the Azolla with fresh water. Dairy farmers are getting excellent profits by avoiding feed cost and also it has been proven, increased milk yield. To get used to the taste of Azolla, better to feed it along with the concentrates in the initial stages.

Economics of Azolla Cultivation:- The cost of preparing a 6 feet X 4 feet pond  depends on labour and other elements like bricks ( if bricks are used to build the sides of pond) . Generally, it costs Rs.2000 for this pond including plastic sheet. A farmer can obtain a net profit of over Rs. 10,000 per year from the additional milk yield and reduced usage of concentrates’ feeding for livestock.

Limitations in Azolla Cultivation:- High summer temperatures, extreme lower temperatures, water scarcity, and low humidity, poor quality of water makes it difficult to adopt Azolla cultivation.

Bottom Line:- Azolla cultivation is an excellent option for farmers who want to fix the Nitrogen in paddy fields and to save supplemental feed cost in livestock.

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  1. Sir/Madam
    Greetings of the Day !
    I am interested to do Azolla framing in Odisha. I want to know the whole details and where I found the Azolla seeds.And also any government subsidy / support available for this project.

    • Azolla Seeds are available on Indiamart (Indiamart dot com) for 200 Rs per kg seed. I don’t think there is a subsidy for Azolla cultivation. However, it is a good idea of contacting your local horticulture department or NABARD.

  2. Dear Sir,

    I am interested in Azolla farming in district Udham singh nagar(Uttarakhanad). Hence, please provide the details of Azolla seed and prices for its farming. Also please provide contact numbers so that we may be in touch with concerned.

  3. Hi , I am from Egypt ,first of all I like to thank you about this article ,it was very helpful .
    I started the cultivation of the azolla 3 months back , can you please tell us if there is any reference or documentation for the azolla syndrome like the azolla getting reddish ( need to decrease sun lights )


  4. Hello sir, I need to grow azolla in poly house as a commercial way.
    Is it possible to grow azolla in poly house, plz let me know the details.

    Thanks in advance

  5. Hello sir
    I am interested to do Azolla farming in large scale commercial bases, can you please provide details to do so and where can I sale and in what farm to sale and general pricing in market and who all are the regular buyers in India and abroad,
    Thank you.


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