South Iceland Farmer Decides to Take a Break Skip to content

South Iceland Farmer Decides to Take a Break

The farmer Ólafur Eggertsson at Thorvaldseyri, whose farm is located at the base of Eyjafjallajökull glacier, has decided not to continue with grain and dairy farming next summer because of the damage ash and flooding has caused to his pastures.

The farm Thorvaldseyri in more fortunate times. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Eggertsson said in a statement that he has neither decided to quit farming altogether nor to move away from the farm, just to take a break from farming in light of the current circumstances. The soil needs time to recover, he reasoned, reports.

“With the current outlook it is not justifiable to cultivate grass, grain and wheat the way we have been doing. It is likely that ash will continue to blow from the glacier in the coming months with the consequential damage to the vegetation,” Eggertsson said.

“We aren’t planning to put down animals or send to the livestock to the slaughterhouse but we have to accommodate them somewhere else. Under these circumstances, when it is impossible to go outside for long periods of time, farm work is neither suitable for people nor animals,” Eggertsson continued.

Thorvaldseyri has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years. In 1906, the farm was acquired by Eggertsson’s grandfather, Ólafur Pálsson. His son, Eggert Ólafsson took over and now Ólafur Eggertsson runs the farm as Iceland’s leading grain farmer.

Grain farming has been practiced at Thorvaldseyri far 50 years. Mostly wheat is produced there but in recent years Eggertsson has also experimented with rapeseed cultivation for oil production. Thorvaldseyri is also a dairy farm with 60 cows and 130 other cattle.

The land belonging to Thorvaldseyri stretches over 1,000 hectares, 150 of which are cultivated. The farm produces its own electricity through geothermal heat—a well on the farmstead provides the farm with 66°C (151°F) hot water for heating and other purposes.

Eggertsson and his farm became world famous when a unique photograph that he took showing the farm’s closeness to the volcano was printed in the international media.

The farmer is now hoping that the money he has earned in the process will cover some of the financial damages caused to his farm by the eruption.

Click here to look at Eggertsson’s extraordinary photograph and here to read more about grain farming at Thorvaldseyri.

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