Sweet Farm Alabama
Equipment challenges can’t break this young farmer’s love of row cropping. Story by Garrett Dixon Salem, Alabama
Farming’s a family tradition for these southern row croppers.
Farming has always been a part of my life. My dad grew up on a row crop farm in northwest Florida. My mother’s family moved to Salem before the Civil War and has been farming here ever since. I grew up watching my grandfather plant and harvest cotton in the fields surrounding my parents’ house. I always loved it, so I followed in his large footsteps. When I was in high school I worked for my uncle on his farm,where I learned how to fix tractors and every other type of machinery.
Dixon Farms was founded in 2009 when Dad and I bought a few head of registered Angus cattle while I was still in high school. I went on to study animal sciences production and management at Auburn University. We still raise Angus, but now I focus on row crops. I started row cropping several years ago with 110 acres of soybeans. Today I grow 250 acres of cotton with about 40 acres of pasture land. I use striptillage practices, plant cover crops and employ grid soil sampling to be as efficient as possible and remain a good steward to the land.
Coping with Equipment
April 1 I started the day by running one of the farm trucks to a local welder so he could strengthen the trailer hitch. As soon as I got home, the tractor dealership dropped off the tractor it had repaired. I sprayed 20 acres of a neighbor’s fields ahead of his corn crop and my own 2-acre field on which I’ll plant sunflowers. Then I fed the cows—usually the last thing I do before calling it a day. My mature cows get whole cottonseed. The heifers get a blend of whole cottonseed and soy hull pellets—the latter of which entice them to eat more feed and gain weight better. April 3 We drove to the Florida farm on Dad’s side of the family to get some old equipment I may need in the next year or two. We ate lunch at Ed’s Tastee-Freez, the best non-seafood restaurant in the Panhandle, before heading back. April 4 Today was one of those days when you spend all day working and then feel as if you didn’t get a whole lot done. After recruiting the help of my uncle and his loader tractor, I unloaded the equipment from Florida. My friend also needed a strip-till unloaded off his trailer,
Garrett Dixon (right) checks the onboard GPS guiding his tractor through a field that he’s spraying with a chemical to kill the cover crop ahead of planting season.