Thomasons named Mississippi County Farm Family
Russell J. Thomason named Mississippi County Farm Family
Russell “Russ” J. Thomason and wife, Katherine, of Blytheville are the 2018 Mississippi County Farm Family. Russ's farming operation is Sandy Bayou Planting Co.
He has lived and worked on the family farm most of his life. Russ started driving a tractor at the age of nine and farming was all he ever wanted to do. The farm is located near Osceola.
His great-grandfather purchased the farm in 1937 for his grandfather to start farming. It consisted of 400 acres. Russ's dad started farming with his dad in 1964 and retired in 2009.
Russ graduated from Arkansas State University in May of 2004 with a BS in Agricultural Businesses and immediately returned to the farm. His dad leased him 400 of the 800 acres he was farming at the time. Since then, Russ has grown his operation to a total of 3,500 acres and of that he has purchased 300 acres along the way. Also, 400 acres are family owned.
His farming operation consists of 600 acres of long grain rice, 1,000 acres of irrigated soybeans, and 1,900 acres of non-irrigated soybeans.
In the 13 years Russ has farmed, his operation has trended from a conventional till method to a reduced till and in some cases a no-till method.
“With these newer methods of farming, I have been able to reduce soil erosion due to wind and rain and save money by making fewer trips over the field,” he said.
Growing in size is not a priority for Russ but he is always looking for opportunities to farm better ground and to improve the land he has. He believes in using irrigation wisely and conservatively. He uses technology to reduce all input costs.
Russ also markets his own crops based on his own observation.
“Working with the county's soil and water conservation district and Extension service, we are implementing new methods of irrigation to reduce water usage and run off,” he said. “With the help of a computer program called Pipe Planner, we can take a flow rate from a well and use this to design near perfect size holes into our poly-pipe. This greatly reduces irrigation cost and water usage. Using Pipe Planner and with the help of county Extension we are experimenting on our farm with furrow irrigated rice this year. We hope this will greatly reduce pumping costs and water usage as opposed to the conventional flood method. Not only that but we can see where tillage for getting fields back into planting conditions for beans will greatly be reduced.”
Russ is very active in the Mississippi County Farm Bureau from 2009 to present; Mississippi County Soil and Water Conservation District since 2011; Mississippi County Extension Ag Subcommittee Council since 2017; and Osceola Municipal Airport Commission since 2008.
Katherine is a 2012 graduate of the University of Memphis. She has a Masters Degree in Nursing. She came back to Mississippi County to practice. She is employed as a nurse practitioner at Wagner Medical Clinic in Blytheville.
She is very active in Relay for Life of North Mississippi County and is the event coordinator for Dancing for the Cure, which was held in April of this year raising over $94,000 for the American Cancer Society. She was also awarded the greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for 2018. She is vice president of the Lions Club, corresponding secretary for the Chapter DP PEO, and a member and current serving elder on the session at First Presbyterian Church. She is also a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.