TeleSupport India Repository

Solution Cattle feed using Azolla
Country India
Last update: 08/02/2011
Summary Azolla is a freshwater fern, which can be grown in artificial freshwater tanks. It is associated with a blue green alga that can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Because of this, it is also used a fertilizer in rice cultivation. ( Link: This fern is a good source of minerals and nutrients; 60% of the dry matter is protein. It also contains vitamin A, antioxidants and other nutrients. Azolla can be cheaply produced in good quantities and be used as a cheap and nutritious cattle feed.
forum discussion 
Contributed by person details Ms. Omana Thakarprambil (RASTA, TeleSupport India)
Challenge/Issue Nowadays a number of synthetic antibiotics, steroids and vitamins are used to increase the production of milk, meat, egg etc. These chemicals may accumulate in the human body, through the consumption of animal products could cause various degenerative diseases. If we can substitute the cattle feeds with natural feeds that are rich in useful nutrients, it will be of great importance for human and animal health. Azolla can be used as a good substitute for the cattle feed.

Azolla seeds - 250 g/meter square (Azolla seed could be obtained from local agricultural research stations)

Fertile top soil - 6-7 kg/m2 of tank surface

Fresh cow dung - 2.5 kg/m2 of tank surface

Bricks of 10 cm width

Phosphorus fertilizer - 15 g/m2 (with 20% P)

Polythene or silpolin sheet of required size. The sheet should be 50 cm longer and 50 cm wider than the size of the tank.

Water (enough to give an 8 cm deep layer in the tank)

METHOD FOR CONSTRUCTING THE TANK (see the video presentation at the 'Publications' tab):

1) Select a level place to prepare the tank. Places having 50% shade are ideal. Level the land if required.

2) Lay the bricks sidewise to produce a tank of 10 cm deep, 3 m long and 2 m wide. (the length could be increased depending on requirement for Azolla)

3) Place some materials like sand at the bottom of the tank on the ground, before laying the polythene/silpolin sheet to avoid damaging the sheet. Place the sheet over the tank as shown in picture ( link : photo)

1) Spread powdered and sieved topsoil evenly in the tank.

2) Spread fresh cow dung after making a slurry with water in the ratio 1:2.

3) Spread 1500 g of Azolla seeds in the bed. Add sufficient water to make a depth of 8 cm.

4) Add 100 g phosphorus fertilizers.

5) Repeat the weekly addition of 300g/m2 of fresh cow dung and phosphate fertilizer at 15 g/m2 to ensure good yield.

6) Maintain the water depth at 8 cm. Azolla seeds will spread fully in the bed within 7 days.

7) Azolla can be harvested at the rate of 200 g/m2/day using a sieve such as a basin with holes at the bottom.

8) Wash Azolla in fresh water to remove the dirt and other particles.

9) Azolla thus cleaned can be fed to cattle after mixing with equal quantity of the normal cattle feed. Add salt if necessary.

10) Change all the water and half the soil once in three months. This helps to improve the growth of Azolla. Soil and water from the tank are good manure.
Lessons learned 1) Azolla is a rich source of protein (60% of dry mass), vitamins A and B12 and antioxidants that improve animal health as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc.

2) It is a low cost feed for cattle, which helps to reduce the total feed cost.

3) Apart from cows, other animals like goats, pigs, rabbits and chicken will eat Azolla

4) Milk production in animals can be increased by 10 to 20%

5) Optimum growth of azolla occurrs at temperatures of 20 to 25 degree celcius and relative humidity 85% to 90%.

6) Azolla tanks should be protected from continues rainfall.
List Keywords
1.1 Socio- economic Sector (OECD) 311 Agriculture
1.2 Institutional dimension Social- livelihood systems/ Gender
1.3 Natural dimension Land/Soils
1.4 Target group(s) 1. Local communities
4. Research community
2.1 Production System 3. Crop- Livestock system
2.2 Production Chain 1. Input Supply & Use
2.3 Commodity group Forages
2.5a Agro-Ecology: Thermal zone 1: Tropical
2.5b Agro-ecology: Altitude zone Mid-altitude
2.5c Agro-Ecology: Moisture zone 2. Sub-humid
3. Humid
3.1 Natural Resource Mgmt. Community-based NRM
3.2 Pollution-Environmental Protection 6. Pesticides & toxics
3. Ecosystems
4. Human health
Telesupport Themes Livestock
Stage Country Region Location
Development India Kerala wayanad, calicut, kottayam, kollam
Apply India Kerala Since 2000 applied in 10 villages in Kerala (Wayanad, calicut, kottayam, kollam)
Role Person name
Describer person details Mr. C.K Vishnudas
Role Organisation Acronym
Network Organisation organisation details TeleSupport India Network TeleSupport India
Type Title Function Download
Extension leaflet, brochure, policy brief or poster output details Azolla as a cattle feed-Description Malayalam Description 34kb
Extension leaflet, brochure, policy brief or poster output details Azolla as a substitute for N fetiliser Description 315kb
Extension leaflet, brochure, policy brief or poster output details Azolla cultivation - Malayalam Brochure - Page 1 ' How to' manual 68kb
Extension leaflet, brochure, policy brief or poster output details Azolla Cultivation - Malayalam Brochure - Page 2 ' How to' manual 96kb
Presentation (video, TV, radio, interview) output details Azolla cultivation in temporary tanks (video English ) ' How to' manual 3.984kb
Presentation (video, TV, radio, interview) output details Azolla cultivation in temporary tanks (video Malayalam) ' How to' manual 3.984kb
Relation Title
Related to practice details Soil fertiliser using Azolla for rice farming
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