Ahead of the monsoon, the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) has come up with a unique solution to stop mosquito breeding during the dengue season – planting Azolla (aquatic fern) that covers the water surface and doesn’t allow mosquito breeding.
Meera D Ansal, senior scientist and head of department of aquaculture, said the plant, which grows on the surface of water, could be used as a measure to stop growth of mosquitoes, especially in villages where ponds are commonly found. Ansal said Azolla doubles its biomass within 2-3 days after which it has to be harvested.
“The plant covers the entire water surface within a few days and doesn’t allow mosquitoes to lay its eggs,” she said.
The fast growing aquatic variety of plant is also picking up as feed, not only for fishes but also for poultry animals and cattle.
Several queries are being received by the department of aquaculture, college of fisheries at GADVASU. Those involved in fish farming can also use the dried up plant as a feed. Farming of the plant costs as less as 20 paisa/kg.
Azolla has historically been used as fodder for domesticated animals such as pigs and ducks. Recently, it has started emerging as a sustainable feed substitute for livestock especially cattle, poultry birds, pigs and fish. Animals are able to easily digest the plant due to its high protein and low lignin content in comparison to many terrestrial fodders.
According to the experts, the plant could also be used in paddy fields as it is a bio-fertilizer. “Azolla is a nitrogen-fixing fern and could be used in paddy fields due to its rich nature,” Ansal added.