It can prove very difficult to reap a harvest at the farms where the ash layer from the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull is more than ten centimeters thick. It could even mean the end to farming at some of the farms in the area.
The ash fall makes the normally idyllic south Iceland countryside look nightmarish. Bjarni Brynjólfsson photographed these horses that were trapped in the ash cloud on Saturday. Click on the picture for a larger image.
Runólfur Sigursveinsson, an advisor at the South Iceland Agricultural Society, told ruv.is that this ash is much finer than the ash of the 1947 and 1970 Hekla eruptions. It becomes as dense as glacial clay when it gets wet, at which point there is a risk of it suffocating the vegetation where the ash layer is thickest.
Sigursveinsson said farmers all over the country must now increase their fodder production. At farms that were subject to the most ash fall, the livestock will most likely need to be moved to other areas. He added that if the ash fall continues, some farms may even be abandoned for good.
Kristinn Stefánsson, the farmer at Raufarfell, has already taken that step. He told ruv.is that he has no choice but to stop farming. A thick layer of ash, which has gotten wet and hard, covers his pastures.
Stefánsson has already sent some of his cattle to the slaughterhouse and will send the rest of the herd today and tomorrow. His pastures are ruined, he said, and there will be no haymaking this year. He doesn’t expect to be living at Raufarfell by next summer.
Even though the volcano isn’t emitting much ash anymore, the ash that has already been emitted keeps blowing across the countryside.
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