To Bruce Tiffany, corn and soybeans aren’t crops, they’re “sunlight capturing devices.”
“Anything that can be made by petroleum can be made with renewable crops,” said Tiffany this week.
“The plants capture the sunlight, and store it. I’m harvesting the sunlight, putting it in a form people can use.
“Petroleum is just a more concentrated form of sunlight captured millions of years ago. Today, with renewables, the trick is figuring out how to (get the same energy) out of renewables.”
Tiffany estimates he spends about 60 percent of his time concentrating on his farm near Redwood Falls.
The rest of the time, he’s out helping to make the area’s ag products competitive in the bigger world.
Speaking of the crops / fuel connection, Tiffany said, “It’s easy to see the connection between crops and animal feed. The crops were used as fuel for the horses on the farm, or in the towns and cities.
“Today we’re harvesting for specific molecules. Some industries are looking for just the C6 molecules, or the C5 molecules.”
Tiffany believes the Redwood area is especially blessed in being able to create products industry is looking for.
“With out climate, our soils, our best way of harvesting sunlight in this area is through corn,” he said.
For his efforts to promote the Redwood area’s ag potential, Tiffany was presented with the first annual Star Ag Producer award at the Redwood Area Chamber and Tourism’s annual meeting Feb. 8.
Tiffany had special reason to be surprised when he was named the winner: he’s on the chamber board, and wasn’t told he had even been nominated.
“I saw an email that there was going to be a new award, but I didn’t know it was directed my way. I wasn’t involved in the selection or creation of the awards,” Tiffany said this week.
Although he was surprised at the recognition, he believes his work with the chamber is part of promoting the area — even to its own residents.
“We don’t work in a vacuum. We need everyone in a community to see the interconnectedness between those in the town, and those outside the boundaries of the town,” he said.
“When you’re traveling, looking down the road, you see some towns that are thriving, and others that are withering.
“We can sit by and let things happen by themselves, and say that was fine. Or we can look ahead and take chances.”
Page 2 of 2 - (The Gazette will feature stories about the other Chamber award winners in our annual Progress sections, featured in the Gazette during March.)