Improving soil fertility through Azolla application in low land rice: A review

Purushottam Subedi1* and Jiban Shrestha2


The continuous usages of chemical fertilizers have harmful effects on soil organic matter reserves, soil health and environmental safety. The use of Bio-fertilizers like Azolla not only increases the rice productivity but also improves the long term soil fertility. Azolla is a fast growing aquatic pteridophyte which fixes atmospheric Nitrogen by forming a symbiotic association with the Blue-Green Algae, Anabaena azollae. Azolla is an efficient Nitrogen fixer. It is grown in lowland rice fields because flooded habitat is suitable for it. Under favorable field condition, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen at a rate exceeding that of the Legume-Rhizobium symbiotic relationship. It increases the rice yield equivalent to that produced by 30-60 kg N/ha. As green manure in water logged soil, it enhances the rapid mineralization of nitrogen. It reduces the NH3 volatilization losses through its influence on floodwater pH that leads to the conservation of urea-N in the system to improve the efficiency of N fertilizers. It significantly improves the physical and chemical properties of the soil including improvement in soil microbial activities. It helps in addition of Organic Matter and release of cations such as Magnesium, Calcium and Sodium. The total N, available P and exchangeable K in the soil and N-uptake by rice can be improved. Therefore, Azolla application is considered as a good practice for sustaining soil fertility and crop productivity irrespective of some limitations.

Keywords: Azolla, Biofertilizer, Soil fertility, low land rice.