Young People in Þingeyrarsýsla Cultivate Land With Old Hay Bales

Young People in Þingeyrarsýsla Cultivate Land With Old Hay Bales

Published August 4, 2020

Nico Borbely
Photo by
Vísir/STÖÐ 2/Arnar Halldórsson

Old hay bales are currently being used for the revegetation of land in the county of Þingeyrarsýsla in northeastern Iceland in a collaborative project between people from the Bárðardalur and Mývatn areas in the north of Iceland, Vísir and Stöð 2 report. For the project, farmers looking to get rid of the unused product have employed young people who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic to help. 

Vísir reporters found the participants working on a small, overgrown meadow in Bárðardalur. The farmers in nearby Halldórsstaðir were also hard at work moving hay rolls in to suitable spots at the top of the slope, where the young people then took them, removed their plastic coverings, and spread the hay around the surrounding area. Some of the bales were as old as 20 and 30 years old.

“This is a re-vegetation project where old, unused hay bales for which farmers have no use anymore can be taken and used for land development,” says geographer and local Svartárkot farmer Sigurlína Tryggvadóttir. “The project is two-part: first we get rid of the waste and dispose of the plastic coverings. Then we use the hay, which would otherwise be thrown away, for land development as fertiliser. It can’t be used in any other way.”

This project is a collaboration between the northern Þingeyjarsveit and Skútustaðahreppur municipalities with the support of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI), known as Landgræðsla in Icelandic. Sigurlína says that it sprang up from grassroots work in Bárðardalur.

“Two farmers had the idea to count the old, unused hay bales and stacks, and found that they had about 900 between the two of them,” she says. They then decided that the idea could also create employment opportunities for young people in the countryside after their options were drastically reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on Iceland’s tourism industry. There are currently four young people working on the project.

According to the Bárðardalur residents, the hay is an excellent organic fertiliser and land reclamation material.

You can watch Stöð 2’s coverage of the project below.

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