Q: I wanted to ask about the bales of hay in the Icelandic countryside. We noticed that the bale wraps came in a few different colours. Are they colour coded or is this just the colours they come in? Thanks, Kim and Gord Tilly, Tyrone, Ontario, Canada
A: According to an article on the qualities of hay bale wrapping on landbunadur.is, the website of the Icelandic Agricultural Information Service, plastic wrapping in three different colors has usually been used in Iceland: white, black and light green. Producers say that exactly the same materials are used in making these different colors.
Which color is best suited has been up for discussion and experimentation by farmers. The advantage of the white wrapping is that it reflects sunlight more efficiently than the other colors and therefore heat fluctuations have less of an impact on the hay.
In the case of darker colors, sunlight is said to cause the different layers of wrapping to melt together, creating a solid cover which decreases oxygen penetration of the hay bales.
Which color is used is up to each farmer.
The public has sometimes described bales of hay as being visual pollution—I remember a discussion in Norway to that regard—reasoning that the white wrappings, which are most commonly used, stand out in the landscape too much.
The black and especially light green wrappings don’t pose as much of a contrast to green pastures but then again, in the snow-covered winter landscape the white wrappings are hardly visible at all while the other colors stand out.
The campaign ‘Bleikar og bláar heyrúllur’ has sold blue and pink hay bale wrapping in the last couple of years to raise money for charity. Blue hay bale wrapping sales go towards awareness for bladder cancer in males while proceeds from the pink ones raise awareness for female breast cancer.