Azolla as a nitrogen fixer and source

It isn’t too clear what this ​Azotic Technologies ​mob is on about, but it looks like a microbial product not a DNA insertion or GMO tech. One of the annoying features of most of these sorts of things is the marketers like to keep the details of what they are selling very clost to their chest. Let me tell you a story.

Twelve years ago I used to spend a couple afternoons a week with a microbiologist by the name of Kyle Merritt who worked for Nutri-Tech. We would go to the pub and have a coffee together and brainstorm about nitrogen fixing microbes. As we were both aware, the varieties and numbers of species of nitrogen fixers is quite enormous and by no means limited to the Rhizobia that form nodules on legume roots.​ There are also the Azotobacters, of which large numbers of different species have been cataloged in river deltas, and Azospirilla which have been found in most Brazilian soils and elsewhere–again with large species diversity. There is the blue green algae, Anabaefa azota​, famous for fixing nitrogen in the fronds of the aquatic weed Azolla, and several species of Azolla as well as large numbers of nitrogen fixing blue green algae that live in the ocean as well as phosphate rich ‘fresh’ water. Then there is the gram negative anaerobe, Acetobacter diazotrophicus​, that fixes nitrogen in the stems of sugar cane and coffee and other plants.​ And also certain species of Clostridia are anaerobic nitrogen fixers. The list goes on and on and may involve even the Archaea, the most primative microbes on earth which eat rocks. Archaea, which are extremely tiny, are thought to be predecessors of the mitrochondria which handle energy within the cells of Eukaryotes, which are all modern organisms with chromosomes. Since somewhere around 10% of the earth’s microbial life has been studied so far, I wouldn’t be too surprised about much of anything. But the point of this story is Kyle left Nutri-Tech and working with a new company developed his own nitrogen fixing microbial product called Twin-N. Twin-N has been tested by the USDA and other research facilities and is capable of infecting a wide range of crops from wheat to bananas and including rice and sugar cane. One of Kyle’s problems with this very effective product was sometimes it didn’t work. First, the plants had to have adequate supplies of lime complex elements from calcium to molybdenum as well as adequate phosphorous and silica uptake. And N fixation takes a lot of energy so the crop’s photosynthesis had to be efficient as well, which meant this didn’t work in a high nitrate environment. And it seems that the nitrogen fixing microbes did not just sacrifice themselves and donate their precious amino acids to the crop plants. Protozoa living within the plants as endophytes, had to consume the nitrogen fixers, digest them and excrete free amino acids. And in some cases as with ginger and tumeric nematodes and other tiny somewhat parasitic animals were responsible for digesting the nitrogen fixers. In the case of Acetobacter the microbe itself may have brought about its dissolution and release of amino acids due to excessive acid production, but that may not have been the main way the amino acids were made available to crops. There was a lot we didn’t know. Yet, in many cases Twin-N was a very effective means of obtaining N for crops as long as nitrogen fertiliser applications were kept low (and usually coupled with soluble humates). You can google Twin-N, which might not be licensed in the UK, I don’t know. Azotic Tech says they are coating seeds with Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus​, where ​Twin-N used more than one different type of N-fixers.

I just thought you ought to be aware there may be various approaches to nitrogen fixation and from my experience with using biodynamics to create the right environment for nitrogen fixation you may not have to buy anything special to get it to supply all the N your crops require. These microbes are found in environments all over the earth. Radionic application of biodynamic preparations, soil mineral balancing and good management of diverse vegetative covers may be all you need and you need these things anyway to get the N-fixing products to work. This doesn’t mean to avoid the products. If they can be any help, go for it. Just don’t get too many stars in your eyes.
Hugh Lovel 13/06/2017 Wiangaree, NSW, Australia