30 thoughts on “Azolla blog

  1. The artificial nitrogen of agriculture: Top ecotoxicological threat for the humanity
    Mariano Montaño, ESPOL / DCQA

    SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting at http://nashville.setac.org 17-21 November 2013

    The activities of all kinds, such as agriculture, aquaculture, health care, environmental protection and resource exploitation, perfect their exercise when they are based on knowledge and fulfill a specific technology. In the perspective of Guayas Ecosystem and Tropical Knowledge these thoughts represent a challenge and a unique opportunity.

    It is known with certainty that cancer comes from a “bad expression” of at least four groups of genes: those activated uncontrollably (oncogenes), which inhibit cancer (suppressor genes), those which control the damage caused by toxic agents (genes repairmen) and the suicide genes of cells that function as a last defense line and determine the death of those will be carcinogenic (apoptosis). The imbalance between these genes, initiates, promotes and spreads cancer. Such “bad expression “, in hypothesis of this paper, emerges of the configuration of the nitrogen of urea impacted by the Bosch-Haber process. By the discoveries at CERN (Ynduráin, 2001) it states that the inseparable entanglement of the electron and photon gives memory to matter, suggesting that nitrogen of urea in our body remembers the stress happened during its manufacture. Health must be correlated with the chemical composition of the organism to establish its proper management.

    The human body is mainly composed of oxygen (65 %), carbon (18 %), hydrogen (10 %), nitrogen (3 %), calcium (1.4 %) and phosphorus (1 %). All these elements are natural because they arise from natural processes, except nitrogen, that could be artificial via the urea fertilizer industry that supports agriculture which provides food to the population.

    It is possible that nitrogen, due to the manufacturing process of urea, is eroding the health of this civilization. The life of every human being depends on the nitrogen. Amino acids, peptides, proteins, genes and other biomolecules are made of this element, and make up the structure, engine and consciousness of existence. For these reasons the agro food products containing natural nitrogen must be distinguished with “biogenic” term, as life generators.

    (1) Ynduráin Francisco José, 2001. Electrones, neutrinos y quarks. La física de partículas ante el nuevo milenio, Editorial Crítica, Colección Drakontos. Barcelona.

  2. Congratulations, Mariano, on being the very first Blog. Most interesting read and great food for thought.
    Thanks Jonathan, this looks a very practical facility, and I hope it all goes well.

  3. Just to clarify Mariano Montaño’s post: It is the abstract of a talk that he will present at the 34th Annual Meeting of SETAC (The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) to be held in Nashville (USA) on 17-21 November 2013 (http://nashville.setac.org).

    SETAC is a not-for-profit, global professional organization comprised of some 6,000 individual members and institutions from academia, business and government. Since 1979, the Society has provided a forum where scientists, managers and other professionals exchange information and ideas on the study, analysis and solution of environmental problems, the management and regulation of natural resources, research and development, and environmental education. (http://www.setac.org/).

    Mariano can be contacted at: ecosistemaguayas@gmail.com

  4. My first Blog is to ask the advice of anyone who has used Azolla as a fertilizer.

    1. Is it better, in your experience, to simply lay the Azolla on the surface of the soils, around the plants? Or do you fork it into the soil? Shallow dig or deep dig?

    2. Have you noticed benefits to the plants quickly after application? Or do the benefits build up gradually over an extended period?

    3. Does the method of application vary across different crops? For example where it is used for growing rice the methods of use would be different than with, say, strawberries, or potatoes, or tomatoes.

  5. We are a Husband and wife team who have worked on Coffee Ecology for over 25 years. I had a very special interest in Azolla and worked for my Masters programmee in understanding the mineralization and nitrogen fixing capabilities of various local Azolla isolates (Azolla pinnata).
    Our work on coffee and azolla can be accessed at
    Azolla that is cultivated in rice fields is allowed to form a dense mat. The green azolla is allowed to slowly turn red, by reducing the water level in the field. This reddish brown azolla is allowed to dry in the field itself. Once dry it is turned into the soil and the entire mixture is then added to compost pits or simply broadcasted inside the coffee farm. This practice results in the increase in soil organic matter and triggers the growth and multiplication of beneficial microbes.

    In the second method, fresh azolla is harvested from ponds and fields and used in the preparation of compost. Since the fern has an excellent carbon nitrogen ratio it decomposes rapidly and accelerates the decomposition of other organic residues inside the compost pit.
    In the third method, freshly harvested azolla is directly broadcasted at the base of the coffee plant and incorporated with scuffle digging.

    We firmly believe that by incorporating Azolla into the soil, depending on the proximity of the roots in the soil (In coffee the root system is spread in the top 6 inches of soil ) the benefits to coffee are tremendous.
    It takes a few weeks (Three to four weeks ) for coffee to show positive results in terms of plant growth and development.
    Yes the method of application varies from crop to crop depending whether the crop is annual or biannual.

  6. This reply is posted for Dr Kamalasanan PIllai in answer to Alan Marshall’s question:

    “Alan Marshall’s question is very relevant because the methods that we have developed to do this provide a system for Azolla’s duel cultivation with other crops in addition to paddy. It also a question that many of our trainees ask during the training programs that we provide.
    For paddy Azolla’s duel cultivation is easy because water or moisture always occurs on the surface of the soil, but Azolla dries up during summer for other land crops. During winter, and in areas of high humidity, Azolla can be grown with other crops as an external symbiont. I am now out of station and can share some photos and video clippings when I return. If you are interested in our training programs or wish to provide funding support, please contact me at: azollapillai@gmail.com
    To summarize our methods and observations:
    (1) Azolla can be grown with other land crops as an external symbiont during winter and also in humid areas with slight modifications in the package of practice.
    (2) Azolla can also be buried in shallow pits around the crop and the benefit in growth can be observed within 10 to 15 days in vegetables and other garden plants.
    (3) The benefits can be observed after 10 to15 days. These include better vegetative growth and productivity and also excellent taste both for raw consumption and cooked.
    (4) The practice varies with specific crops and further studies, which we are now undertaking, are required to standardize the package for each crop.”
    Dr Kamalasanan Pillai

  7. Hello,
    I think the Azolla project must be launched in all national agricultural programs in Latin america, it promotes sustaintable development and improves the quality of life for their citizens.

  8. I was writing to ask if the Azolla project can be included United Nations programmes for Development in Latin America in the category of global warming. Could it also contribute to sustainable programmes and the social development of our communities?
    I am based in the Veracruz State of Mexico and I welcome your comments and advice.
    Diego Abraham Orozco Cervantes

    • Dear Diego, I’m Nina Ximenes from Brazil. Jonathan told me about your intentions to use Azolla in sustainable programs and the social development of communities. I am trying to do this in Brazil, and Mariano Montaño is also doing the same thing in Ecuador. We recognize the great potential in using Azolla in agriculture and livestock farming, but the majority of people and their governments still do not recognize the potential of this plant. I am certain that if we all do a joint effort, we can transmit this knowledge to the world, especially for poor and developing countries, because in these countries there is a large index of poverty. We join with you in this hard work of disseminating Azolla around the world. You can write to me in Spanish, if you prefer: ximenesnina@hotmail.com
      Un saludo desde Brasil.

  9. Nina and Diego, I would love to follow your discussions and would be grateful for your expressions in English as well, if that is not too much trouble. It’s wonderful to hear of all this excitement and enthusiasm for Azolla.
    Having spent a couple of months in Haiti, I feel they also, as a Caribbean country, would be very well served by greater knowledge and utilization of this plant.

    • Sure, Alan, I can talk with you in English. This will be a pleasure.
      I read your profile on The Azolla Foundation website. The way you found out about Azolla is very interesting after your searches to treat gray water with this plant. Your research is very important, because phosphorus is one of the substances that is responsible for water eutrophication, and this represents a serious ecological problem. If we can prove that Azolla can resolve this problem, it will be fantastic. This plant is a true miracle of nature, really.
      Well, it´s good to hear from you, Alan.

  10. Sir,
    I’m a poor boy in my country Philippines and from time to time I’m just dreaming about how I can help my countrymen in a little way, especially in my home town. We are so poor but still keep going. As I read and have information about your Foundation I came to realize that through this cultivation of Azolla it can help us to feed our animals. But the problem is that we don’t know the process and procedure and that’s why we need your help sir. We lack the of knowledge about Azolla. So if you have time you can visit us here in the Philippines. We are located at Banaue Rice Terraces. Thank you and hoping for your response.

    • Anthony, thank you for your enquiry. Your English grammar is extremely good so I guess your computer and Internet-surfing skills are quite good, too. There is a lot of information concerning the growing of rice with the application of Azolla for enhancing nitrogen levels. A wonderful concept and designed to help the poorer people of the world.
      Would you like to tell us in detail what your involvement is/will be with the cultivation of Azolla? Are you involved from a farming angle, or wishing to develop a commercial enterprise?

    • Hi Anthony,

      I am also from the Philippines. I can help lead you to information on how to grow azolla, the internet is a good way to start. You may want to visit The Azolla Foundation’s website, http://theazollafoundation.org/. You’ll find there tons of info about azolla. I guess you’ll need to start from there. I can also get you azolla starter if you’re ready to try growing your own. It’s free, just let me know.

      You may send me an email/sms, greyhound309@gmail.com/0910-870-9731


    • Dear Anthony,

      I really hope that you receive this message. I am travelling to the Philippines soon to lecture on Azolla. I would love to help you by doing a demonstration and a seminar all about Azolla and its cultuivation.

      Thank you very much for your message. You can either reply here or email me on alexandrabujak@theazollafoundation.org

      We also have facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheAzollaFoundation which you can message and post on and find other Azolla growers in your area.

      Warmest regards,

      Lexy (Alexandra)

      The Azolla Foundation

      • I would like to attend your discussions in the Philippines about azolla production. Currently I have fish ponds and poultry houses and am beginning to grow azolla to see if this is a way to reduce the huge expenses for feeds that are now being paid. The first attempt to feed bangus azolla did not go well – the fish spit out the azolla, but we will be doing other experiments to change the way the fish are being fed. We operate 63HA of ponds and 2 poultry houses, if successful with azolla or duckweed this could be an opportunity to assist farmers growing fish and chickens to raise their standard of living.

        • hello steve i am planning to feed dried azolla to bangus in cage culture can you please advice me what happened why bangus spit out azolla. because i read from seafdec that dried azolla is good alternative for bangus feeds.Steve please help me im from estancia iloilo
          thank you

  11. Every child and every person anywhere in the world is Anthony Gumunot. Azolla is a unique plant that can have a special key to meet their longings to reduce man-made climate change and provide biofertilizer, livestock feed, food and renewable energy. What a wish to have the power to ignite this dream from your Banaue Rice Terraces home. Thanks

  12. I became interested in Azolla about 20yrs ago while building my house and microhydro power system. (see website …tahekemud.com ) I live next to an average-sized river (by NZ standards), but highly polluted, surrounded as it is by intensive monocultural agriculture – mainly dairy and beef. I extract water from the river for the power system into a pond about 1.5 acres in area. The pond acts as a forebay for the penstock of hydro system. About 2yrs after the initial installation the pond became filled with plant growth due to the high nutrient load, mainly Azolla (thank goodness) with an underwater weed locally known as oxygen weed (which appears to me a misnomer as I dont think it produces oxygen at all) plus other invasive weeds, the worst of which is one called aligator weed.

    In the hot, late summer each year the pond began to collapse due I suspect to the ever increasing biomass and nutrient load, killing water fowl landing on the pond and small fish in the water. To prevent this I began extracting the plant growth where possible, even small amounts of extraction seemed to prevent the collapse. I increased this extraction over time, particularly when Azolla that began to cover the whole pond in a thick carpet – at times more than an inch thick. We developed a large (oil boom like) net, eventually extracting 25 to 30 car trailer size loads of Azolla every year, soon to discover what an amazing soil additive and fertiliser the Azolla was.

    This process is now well-established and has had many beneficial results – not just for the amazing health and taste of our fruit and vegetables (we are real novices in gardening), but there is also a real reduction in the nutrient pollution and an increase in the general health of the pond and related waterways.

    Our future plans are to combine the benefits of Azolla use and harvest with Keyline water storage and distribution….but that is another chapter, and hopefully with the help of the Azolla Foundation and its knowledge of this amazing little plant, we can move forward and outside our own small patch toward a whole river catchment scheme. I would be very interested in contacting any others working with Azolla in New Zealand. I would also welcome any comments and advice. Many thanks to all involved. Best regards, Donn Groom

  13. Alan Marshall has asked me to post this reply from him to Donn Groom.

    Donn, I am particularly interest in your comments about the “Oxygen Weed.”

    In one of my hubs I have described the growth of Spirogyra. This occurs when Azolla is harvested, leaving a space on the surface for light to penetrate the water. Spirogyra will continue to grow and flourish until the Azolla grows back and, once again, crowds out the Spirogyra.

    Could this be synonymous with “Oxygen Weed?”

    Below the Azolla plants, if the water is stagnant and very slowly moving, it becomes anaerobic. (I have not tested for oxygen content, but simply go by my sense of smell.)

    There is a very good reference to Spirogyra in Wikipedia.


    I would like to suggest that this algal “weed” could find a very useful place in someone’s research, and I have posted the information above with that in mind.

    Alan Marshall, Azolla Associate, Tasmania.

  14. At the end of the 2013, I warmly thank your support for the dream of making the rice fields, green fertilizer factories a basis of health and prosperity. Ecuador´s Transformation of Productive Matrix must inevitably go through the rice fields, and turn our country into global benchmark of natural nitrogen. Good 2014.
    Mariano Montaño, Azolla Associate, Ecuador.

  15. I would like to echo the message of Mariano and wish everyone, both current members any newcomers, lots of success and fruitful endeavour for the coming year.

  16. While travelling back to Australia from London in January, I was able to stop over in South India for a couple of weeks and meet up with Dr. Kamalasanan Pillai, our fellow Azolla Foundation Associate.
    I was greeted with great courtesy and friendship and Dr. Pillai was able to share with me some of his vast knowledge of Azolla. This helped me to understand the importance of assessing the dietary needs of chicken and adjusting the Azolla pellet formulae accordingly. He was awaiting delivery of a new pellet machine which sounds exciting. His colleagues and the local population are working closely with him in the further research and use of Azolla.
    Dr. Pillai’s wider knowledge of other science areas, such as Nutrition and Bio-Chemistry, obviously has guided him in the research he has taken and continues to advance in India as a whole.
    I continue to broaden my search for ways to “clean up” grey water and you may be interested in a well-written website concerning duckweed, http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/resources/documents/DW/Dw2.htm which, I believe, ought to be seen in relation to work with Azolla as the two species seem to go “hand-in-hand.”
    In conclusion, I wish to extend my gratitude to Dr. Pillai for his patience, his detachment from the busy professional and business life he leads, in order to attend to my needs, and wish him every success in the future.

  17. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right.

    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for
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  18. Today Vladimir Holguin graduates of master of climate change in ESPOL, Ecuador. He has discovered that the Azolla in Guayas Ecosystem can sequester 400 tCO2 per year per hectare, raising 6.67 times the highest score given by the global technical literature. His thesis is “Carbon capture potential of an agricultural production system rice (Oryza sativa) – Azolla spp. in the province of Guayas”

  19. We started a family farm, farming with pigs. Because of the high cost of feed for the pigs I am always looking for cheaper alternatives, without loosing the nutritious value. that’s how I came about your website. This really excites me but I do have a few questions? First, I stay in South Africa and our farm is on the border of the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. As far as I can tell, by reading on the net, Azolla is an invasive plant in our country, and they are trying all they can to get rid of it. If one can utilize it for fodder I don’t know why, but here’s my questions.
    1) Are all the Azolla’s the same in protein value, as it is the protein content in local feeds that makes it so expensive? (As far as I can tell, there are 3 species in Southern Africa.
    2) Are they all good for animal feed. Even if they differ in nutritional value?
    3) Are there any of the Azolla families that are poison’s to animals?

    Thanks for a great website

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