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Field of Dreams

How one industry’s waste is another’s profit.

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Summertime in Colorado is synonymous with sweet Olathe corn on the cob. But come fall, acres of harvested cornfields are covered with stover—the leftover stalks, husks, and cobs. The USDA estimates that each corn season yields about 580 million pounds of the biomass, which is left on the ground to decompose or used as winter-feed for cattle.

That was just a lot of carbon dioxide–producing junk—until Corn Board Manufacturing Inc. found a way to use stover to create an alternative to pressed wood. Its product, which is combined with a superhard resin, is used to make everything from doors to chairs to skateboards—and the results stand up to even professional wear and tear. Just ask legendary skateboarder Christian Hosoi and pro surfer Alana Blanchard, both of whom ride boards made by a subsidiary of the Texas-based company (which launched retail operations in Colorado this summer).

But the true hardiness test came when CEO Lane Segerstrom jumped on one of the company’s longboards and tethered himself to a car traveling nearly 80 miles per hour to prove the product’s strength and durability. Not only did the board hold up over two runs, but Segerstrom also notched himself an entry into the Guinness World Records list for the fastest speed on a towed skateboard (he averaged 78.1 miles per hour). Given that test, we’re sure this new material can handle your household use.

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