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Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt ExpoSoutheastern Farmer of the Year
He has a knack for getting in and out of farm enterprises at the right time. Tobacco, hogs and stocker cattle are some of the enterprises that he built up and then eliminated.
At one time, he had 200 sows and raised 5 acres of burley tobacco. He raised broiler chickens on contract for a year in a rented house. One year, he sold 5,000 bundles of cornstalks to a wholesale customer for ornamental use.
In past years, he produced stocker cattle. He bought them when they weighed 600 pounds and sold when they weighed 800 to 850 pounds. He discontinued his stocker enterprise to devote more time to Grandaddy’s Farm.
Dixon still has a 20-head beef herd and sells his calves in graded feeder calf sales when they reach about 550 pounds.
“Marketing is important, and my marketing decisions result from much planning and studying,” Dixon says. “I sell grain directly to end-users or processors.” He uses several marketing tools, including forward contracts, on-farm storage, basis contracts, put options and spreads. Spreads involve buying puts and selling calls in the futures markets.
Baled rye and wheat straw add an important value-added component. He sells some 50,000 bales of straw annually, mainly for road construction projects to customers as far away as Birmingham, Ala., and Knoxville, Tenn.
One implement that has helped his straw business has been a Bale Band-It that is pulled behind his baler. As the bales exit the baler, they are directed into the Band-It, and when 21 bales are in the chamber, the bales are bundled together in an easy-to-move package. Dixon says this implement eliminates much of the hand labor in handling hay and straw.
“His marketing is what makes his straw business successful,” says Ed Burns, Franklin County Extension agent. Dixon also helps Burns by providing land for corn, soybean and wheat variety trials.
Dixon uses no-till planting and grassed waterways to conserve soil. He protects the environment by fencing cattle out of streams and woodland.
He uses a yield monitor on his combine, along with automated steering and guidance for his sprayer and fertilizer spreader. In recent years, he focused on sampling soil for nutrients in ten-acre and smaller grids.
This year, he started using a Kentucky-based crop consultant service named Wheat Tech to scout his wheat crops and improve the timing of fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide applications.
The Franklin County Livestock Association and the Tennessee Forage and Grassland Council have recognized his forage production. He has taken part in a Tennessee Extension leadership development program. He also uses the Tennessee Extension MANAGE program for farm and financial planning.