The potential of azolla application for enhancement of growth performance of Zea Mays in Uganda
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Apart from its role in sustainable agriculture, the use of biofertilizer and green manures is an ecofriendly and economically feasible scientific method. The present study was conducted to access the potential for Azolla-anabaena symbiotic association in enhancing growth performance of Zea mays. Triplicates of potted plants were grown in four fresh Azolla treatment; 50g/kg, 100g/kg, 250g/kg and 350g/kg alongside a negative control (NC) with unmodified soil. The study was conducted from the greenhouse in Botanical Garden of Makerere University, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology. The plants were monitored and their height, average leaf length, and number of visible leaves determined and recorded at fortnight intervals and at the end of the experiment root length was also measured. Height, average length of leaves and root length results were subjected to one-way ANOVA while number of leaves were analyzed by Kruskal–Wallis test to determine the effect of applying Azolla on the growth performance of maize plants at P=0.05. Significant differences were observed in average length of leaves (ANOVA, P<0.0049), maize height (ANOVA, P<0.0003) as well as root length (ANOVA, P<0.0001). It was also noted that 250g/kg and 350g/kg treatments were very effective in enhancing the growth performance of maize and thus could effectively substitute the inorganic fertilizer as an eco-friendly, accessible and cheap fertilizer input in the management of soil health. Field experiments are thus recommended to evaluate its feasibility and farmers are encouraged to adopt the use of Azolla fern because of its potential economic benefits. Physiochemical properties of the amended and non-enhanced soils were also done at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute in Nakawa and the Soil-Azolla amendment samples gave significant difference in nutrient composition as compared to the non-enhanced soils.