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.

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