Azolla - the new 'green revolution
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CTA. 1990. Azolla - the new 'green revolution. Spore 30. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45404
A peasant farmer in the Philippines has developed an integrated farming system that substantially increases the productivity of his land, and yet requires no fertilizer. The system, practiced by Mr Fantilanan on his half-acre irrigated farm, is...
' A peasant farmer in the Philippines has developed an integrated farming system that substantially increases the productivity of his land, and yet requires no fertilizer. The system, practiced by Mr Fantilanan on his half-acre irrigated farm, is based on the small aquatic fern, azolla. Azolla can double its mass every three to five days. Through its symbiotic association with Anabaena azollae, it also fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere. And, it can be used as both fertilizer and an animal feed. Mr Fantilanan grows two species, A. pinnata and A. microphylla. Some of the crop is fed to his pigs, ducks and chickens and the pig effluent is further mixed with azolla and put through a biogas digester. This provides methane fuel for heating and lighting the farmhouse and warmth for incubators in a small hatchery. The odourless residue from the digester is used as fertilizer on his rice and wide variety of vegetables and fruit crops. His farm is self-sufficient, providing for his family of 13 and producing a net annual income of $3000. This is more than twice as much as that of neighbouring farmers some of whom have four times the area of land. The success of this farm is based on the highly developed integrated system using azolla. For example, the farm contains a series of ponds. One contains Tilapia nilotica fed exclusively on azolla, another has ducks, while adjacent ponds contain golden snails (removed as pests from the paddy) and clams. The clams, weighing up to 500g, are sold along with surplus fish, snails and vegetables, to restaurants. Recognizing the potential of this model, the FAO signed an agreement with the provincial government in 1987, to provide $25,000 to establish a training centre for more Filippino farmers to adopt the Fantilanan method. Already more than 300 farmers, students and extension workers have attended courses on his farm. Ken Giller, Wye College University of London Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH, UK