Despite using chemical fertilizer, a farmer was unable to get a good crop of paddy from his farm. He consulted an agriculture scientist who advised him to inoculate the fields with water fern Azolla. What is the rationale behind the advice? What value is provided by it?
Azolla is a biofertilizer. It contains nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium Anabaena as symbiont. A part of the fixed nitrogen directly passes into paddy field while the rest is made available to the field after death of Azolla. It therefore, enriches the field with nitrogen as well as organic matter. On decomposition, organic matter releases minerals. It also maintains health of the soil. All these help improve the yield of crop. The quality of the product is also improved due to absence of chemical fertilizers.