It’s the kind of thing that’ll make you stop and take a second look — a field planted side-by-side in both cotton and watermelons.

But to southwest Georgia’s William Dillard, it’s much more than just an oddity.

“It’s helping us to cut costs and make more efficient use of our land,” says Dillard, who farms in Tift County, Ga., with his cousin Jamie. “The land doesn’t have to be prepped but once, and with the high cost of diesel, we can get two for one.”

Dillard was the first grower in his county to take a chance on intercropping cotton and melons. That was three years ago, and since then, others have followed suit.

In his first year of inter-cropping, Dillard planted cantaloupes and cotton. He also grows fresh-market peas, frozen-market peas and peanuts.

“Our acreage varies each year. We were down some on cotton acres in 2012, but we usually stick with around 100 acres of watermelons. We’ve also planted fall greens on some of our watermelon land,” he says.

Dillard admits he wasn’t totally convinced about the intercropping system in the beginning.

“Someone actually told us about it, and we thought they were about half crazy. But we saw a field in which the system was being used and we decided to give it a try. We were pretty successful, averaging about 1,240 pounds of lint in that first year, and the economics convinced us give it another try.”

Timing is important in any facet of farming, but doubly so when attempting to intercrop cotton with melons, says Dillard.