By Chris Simones
A local farmer has been recognized as outstanding in his field by Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Martin Grissom has been named Tennessee Farm Bureau’s District IV Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award winner for 2020.
Grissom was surprised to win the award so early in his career.
“The young farmers program is for anyone of the age 18-35 and the district winner is typically someone with a more established operation,” said Grissom. “It was an honor to be named the award winner as young as I am.”
Farm Bureau’s District IV is made up of 14 counties in Middle Tennessee including Warren, White, Cannon, DeKalb, and Van Buren.
Grissom served as president of the Collegiate Farm Bureau in 2018 and received his degree in agricultural business from UT-Martin in 2019.
Grissom was named this year’s District IV winner based on his farm and financial records from 2019, as well as his leadership on the farm, in his community, and with Farm Bureau.
The results were announced during the Tennessee Young Farmers Summer Conference held at Tennessee Farm Bureau headquarters in Columbia last week, an event Grissom said was educational.
“I just returned from the annual conference where it was sure an experience with the COVID-19 guidelines,” Grissom said. “While at these types of events, I am able to grow myself and my farm by learning what my peers and mentors are facing on their operations.”
Grissom is carrying on a family tradition with farming at M and M Farms.
“I’m the fourth generation to farm the same land in Rock Island. I work in a partnership with my grandfather, David Grissom, and my father, Mike Grissom,” he said. “While we all work equally to meet the same goal, we are branded as M and M for Mike and Martin.”
M and M Farms spans 925 acres and is located along highways 30 and 70 in Rock Island. The farm grows corn, wheat, soy beans, hay and forages and also provides pasture for the cattle.
“While I started in the produce business, then ventured into the meat business, I was finding my specialty and that is growing premium hay,” Grissom said. “I am having success growing Bermuda grass, orchard grass, and Timothy grass and turning them into small, square bales for horses and other ruminant animals.”
One crop Grissom began growing recently is Teff, a fast-growing, high-yielding warm season annual grass from Africa that can be fed to dairy and beef cattle, horses, and sheep.
“This is a very hardy grass that is low in sugar for animals that demand a nutritious feed source that is low in sugar,” said Grissom. “We are still experimenting with the best practices for harvest, but it has many proven sustainable benefits.”
Although the land has been farmed for four generations, the methods of farming have changed over the years.
“We are using GPS to steer the tractor to be more efficient in using less seed and other inputs,” Grissom explained. “Autosteer is much like autopilot on an airplane. It drives the tractor precisely down the row.”
Grissom said that concepts and technology have changed, but the respect for the land and the animals remains the same.
“We are using plants that require less water and fertilizer to preserve our land,” Grissom said. “On the farm we are trying to remain a diverse operation so we can operate for years to come. We are focusing on the quality of our products and less on the quantity.”
Grissom will receive $200 cash and $1,000 in Tennessee Farm Bureau services for winning the achievement award and plans to put all of it back into the farm.
“I think a key to my success thus far is reinvesting into the farm, and I will for sure use that cash for some type of purchase for the operation,” Grissom said. “That $1,000 of Farm Bureau services will be used to help pay for the insurance on the barns and tractors.”
Martin Grissom is a 2016 graduate of WCHS.