Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Hay Is Fabulous (And Halting Erosion In Iceland)


It may seem too simple to be true, but to combat the spread of so-called “erosion escarpments” or rofabards (see above) Icelandic farmers have turned to spreading cut-up hay to halt the slow creep of desertification on the island. And so far, it seems to be working.

This sustainable practice has developed from what seems to be a happy accident during the seventies, when originally farmers wanted to get rid of unusable hay bales, which were then wrapped in plastic. Birds, attracted to a chemical component in the plastic, pecked holes in the plastic, allowing the hay to dampen and become unusable.

The farmers took the useless hay up to the highland pastures, chopped it up and left it at the foot of the escarpments. The wind blew and soil anchored around the hay amidst the escarpments and encouraging vegetation to take root – and hay also gradually transforms into soil and becomes another rebuilding constituent. (Parallels to no-tillage champion Masanobu Fukuoka’s documented usage of randomly-spread hay, done after harvesting to further enrich the soil, is something that certainly comes to mind.)

More at

No comments: