Azolla Cultivation On Several Types Of Water Using Several Cheap Natural Fertilizers That Are Locally Available In Palestine
Raid Hassan Mohammed Amro
رائد حسن محمد عمرو
The Azolla plant is one of the most important and famous plants that is worldwide cultivated for the production of animal feed. This is due to its cheap cost, rapid growth, and rich protein content, which ranges between (20-30)% of its dry weight. Also for its ease of cultivation, besides being environmentally friendly green fodder. Studies and scientific research dealing with this plant and its economic and agricultural importance to Palestinian farmers are so important in order to introduce Azolla cultivation in the West bank and Gaza strip. The plant is not yet known or widespread in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hence, it is necessary to conduct an objective scientific study on the ground that confirms and proves the possibility of cultivating this plant in the Palestinian environment using local organic fertilizers and on different types of water. Therefore, we planted several basins of Azolla plant in different environments in terms of temperature, light intensity, type of organic fertilizer and the amount of water used and compared with each other, to study the possibility of cultivating the plant in the Palestinian environment and to identify the most prominent environmental factors that affect its cultivation. This is the first and only study that investigates the possibility of cultivating Azolla in Palestine based on scientific investigations. As it turned out that it is possible to grow the Azolla plant in Palestine with ease and outside the greenhouse for most months of the year, as well as inside it in all months and seasons. It was found that growth rates was higher during the summer by almost half. Also, the Azolla plant can be grown organically using natural organic fertilizers without using any chemical fertilizers. Vermicompost is the best ever among all the other organic fertilizers that can be used. This type of fertilizer does not need agricultural soil when used, unlike the rest of the organic fertilizers, which turned out to be unreliable alone for cultivation of the Azolla plant. Agricultural soil must be added with a height of 3 cm at least inside each basin when using these organic fertilizers. Azolla plant can be grown on many types of water, such as the water from fish farming ponds and the treated waste water secondary or tertiary treatment. The water of fish farming ponds was found the best among these types for cultivation Azolla. Azolla plant can be grown in a healthy manner at varying heights of water Ranging on average from 3 cm and above (it can be planted even in less than this xiv depth). The preferable basins depth during summer was found to be more than 20 cm. This depth was found better for control the temperature of water in the basin and climatic fluctuations between night and day. Within the Azolla basin (3-5) cm, experiments also showed that the Azolla plant multiplies in the Palestinian environment from (6-10) times within one month, i.e. an average of once every 4 days on average. The production per square meter of fresh green Azolla (within 4 days) and after drying in the shade for 5 hours ranged between 800 - 1000 gm. of fresh green Azolla, meaning that the monthly average production of a square meter of Azolla plant is equivalent to 6-7 kg/month. Therefore, the average biomass resulting from an area of one dunum during one month is approximately 6 tons. The results also showed that the growth rate of the Azolla plant is close to the growth rate of the water lentil plant with a relative superiority in favor of the water lentil plant. It was also noted that the environment of the cultivated Azolla ponds could be improved by some additions. As an example for the fish water by adding agricultural soil, and daily stirring once or twice. Daily stirring of the water and soil of the organically grown Azolla ponds contributes to an increase in its growth rate. The intensity of light greatly affects the growth rate of the Azolla plant, its color and appearance. The growth rate of the Azolla planted in the shade (50% of the intensity of natural light) was greater than that directly exposed to sunlight. Sterilization of organic manure by the addition of copper sulphate at a concentration of (5 g/L)was found to play an important role in maintaining the safety of Azolla ponds from harmful algae, fungi and molds. It is also possible to fertilize and stir the water and soil of Azolla ponds built organically using different types of fish such as tilapia and catfish. With the need to take into account the numerical density (fish/square meter) because the goal of it is fertilization, not breeding, in order to maintain a balance between the needs of Azolla and the concentration of organic fertilizer. and Experiments have shown that the monthly water consumption rate by the Azolla plant is approximately equal to 120 m3/dunum. And the palatability of farm animals was noted, different animals can eat Azolla.