Bruce Tiffany knows every decision has consequences.
As a farmer, Tiffany makes decisions on a regular basis that impact his operation, as well as the environment in which that operation exists.
As those decisions are made, Tiffany makes the time to reflect on the impact both now and for the future, adding his goal as a farmer is to make a profit but more than that it is to ensure the next generation can have the same opportunities that he has been given. That all starts with ensuring the natural resources available to him are well cared for and are being utilized to their potential.
Tiffany and his wife, Ann, along with extended family members, operate a grain farm near Redwood Falls that is multi-faceted, and over the years that operation has seen success for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that they have implemented more than 30 different conservation practices into their farming operation.
Tiffany believes it is his responsibility to understand the implications of the decisions he makes and the actions he takes in his operation, and that means taking into consideration the impact on the environment.
For their efforts, the Tiffany family was selected for the Outstanding Conservationist Award by the Redwood Soil and Water Conservation District – one of more than 60 across the State of Minnesota. They were also selected as one of eight regional award winners, and in December the Tiffany operation was honored as the winner of the 2018 Minnesota Outstanding Conservationist Award.
Tiffany said it is a very humbling feeling to know they have been selected out of all of the farmers in the state, adding he knows many of them are also doing very good work for the environment in their operations.
For Tiffany, the question he keeps asking himself as he continues in his operation is whether the people who came before him and those who will come after him would be proud of the decisions he has made.
The list of practices that have been implemented in the Tiffany operation include everything from the establishment of buffers and streambank stabilization to field and tree line windbreaks and the removal of acreage from production.
Over the years the operation has also focused on reduced tillage, and most recently the Tiffanys have started to implement strip tillage on some of their land.
Bruce attributed that effort to his son, Matthew, who actually purchased the equipment needed to put that effort in place. Some of the conservation practices require investment, added Tiffany, and he said they weigh out the costs compared to the benefit they will receive from it before putting anything into practice. They will also take a practical approach to those efforts to ensure they can be effective in their operation.
“Not everything works for everyone,” he said.
Another practice that has been added in recent years is the use of cover crops, and, as has been the case with strip tillage, Tiffany has seen the benefit, and the plans are to increase the use of both of those practices in the future.
In the application submitted by Redwood SWCD, those nominating him for the award wrote, “Bruce started farming at a very young age with his brother, Wayne. In 1968 at the age of 11, Bruce and Wayne rented their first 20 acres of farmland…Today Bruce farms approximately 1,400 acres. He continues to be a local leader in conservation within the county. He has incorporated conservation practices on the farm before public programs were available to provide assistance. Using various conservation programs, Bruce has continued to make improvements on the land over the years.”
While Tiffany has focused on implementation of conservation practices, he has also been an advocate for farming – using his operation as an example for the public to see and to learn from as they visit. People from across the nation and even internationally have been to the Tiffany farm.
For Tiffany, educating the public about the ag industry in an effort to show them firsthand what really happens on the farm and to demonstrate to others that farmers are actually good stewards of the land is an important part of his role.
In recent years he has worked with Teri Smith of the Redwood Falls Public Library to put on a series of ag education programs, and the next series of programs is set to start in February.
Tiffany has taken a proactive approach to farming, as he has become water quality certified through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and believes the best method is to put things in place in his operation before they would ever become enforced by the government. That way he can demonstrate how things work effectively.
Tiffany appreciates the chance he has to share what works with other farmers and to learn from them as well. For Tiffany none of what he does is about getting awards or drawing attention to himself. Rather he firmly believes what they are practicing is simply the right thing to do.