Extension Supports Alabama Row Crop Producer from the Ground Up

by Katie Nichols

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — Farming full time was a dream for Garrett Dixon as he studied animal science at Auburn University. He dug in and decided to make farming his life’s work after graduation. However, to help make it happen, Dixon has relied heavily on the guidance and expertise of his local agronomic crops Extension agents. Now, nearly 10 years later, his partnership with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is still going, changing the way he farms for the better.

Working with Extension

Dixon is the sixth generation of Dixons to farm in Lee County on the same land they have worked since the 1860s. However, there was a significant gap between Dixon’s start and the last full-time farmer. When Dixon began planting cotton, he said he had a steep learning curve.

“I discovered Alabama Extension the first year that I began farming,” Dixon said. “We had a 15-year production gap between when my granddad and uncle last farmed and when I started farming.”

Dixon said he reached out to the local Extension agent in hopes of learning more about application timing throughout the cotton season.

“I understood the basics of growing a crop, but I didn’t understand the timing of certain applications,” Dixon said. “I reached out to my local Extension agent, and she was able to come out to my farm and help me time those applications and tell me when it was the best time to apply certain things.”

Backed by Research

Garrett DixonDixon said the year-round support he received led to a strong partnership between him and local crops agents.

“My work with Extension over the years has really changed the way I do things on my farm,” Dixon said. “The ability to utilize the research they do with on-farm variety trials and at the research stations has really given me a window into farming practices that may or may not work on my farm at a macro level.”

Dixon said he takes what he learns from Extension research and looks for a practice that fits what he wants to do on his farm. Then he works to apply it. Dixon said the time he spends learning from Alabama Extension Cotton Entomologist Scott Graham is time well spent.

“Dr. Scott Graham has really made an impact on the work that I do here on my farm,” Dixon said. “Partnering with him to do some trials on our farm has really helped me to fine-tune the management of insects within my cotton and peanut crops. That has been really valuable when it comes to improving my crop yields.”

Dixon said outside of weather, insects play a big role in determining the success of a crop yield, so his partnership with Graham has helped him improve the insect management on his farm. Graham said Dixon is a valuable partner and strong supporter of Extension work.

“Working with Garrett has been great,” Graham said. “He’s been willing to help us not only demonstrate but also validate a lot of the small-plot research that we do. His work with us helps to show that the research we are doing is not just made for small plots, but it is made for the farmer who growing on a larger scale too.”

Choose Alabama Extension

Dixon said he continues to seek information from Alabama Extension because each year there is research that helps him plan for market, weather and crop conditions.

“As they continue to research new technologies and farm practices, I am able to review that research and see what I want to take back to my operation,” Dixon said. “It is a really valuable service to me as an Alabama cotton farmer.”

Discover Alabama Extension

Providing support for Alabama farmers is just one of the many ways Alabama Extension delivers solutions for life’s everyday challenges. Extension educators are strong community partners, bringing practical ways to support homes, farms, people and communities.