There are two things Ben Burgess is especially passionate about - agriculture and sustainability - which makes him an excellent fit for his current role. Previously based in the Rangitikei, Ben has been a TSR for the last two years and joined the Hawkes Bay team about five months ago.
Currently based out of the Dannevirke Farm Source store, Ben looks after farmers all over the Hawkes Bay catchment. He has a science degree and owns a lifestyle block where he raises a handful of steers. Why steers? Well, he was born in Northland and raised on a dry stock farm there. He made the move south to Palmerston North to attend Massey University where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Agriculture and Animal Science.
"It was during this time I developed a real passion for the dairy industry and the progressive culture that surrounds it. I spent my time during and after Massey milking cows down in the Manawatu and worked for LIC before joining Farm Source," says Ben.
Calving season is in full swing for Ben’s farmers and key to this is getting cows fed well, "so they are in peak condition for milking, and mating come October/November," he says.
Coming from sunny Northland, Ben knows about coping with summer drys and making the most of plant growth before then.
"[With] the Hawkes Bay being a historically summer dry region we focus on maximising grass growth when its available to us and using suitable crops to bridge the deficits in the dry," says Ben, who also has a keen interest in agronomy.
"For me, I really enjoy the agronomy side of my job. It all starts with getting the right cultivar of grass and crop species to maximise their growing season, with the end goal being profitable milk into the vat. What really excites me is it’s different for every farm and it’s ever-evolving with new products and ideas to help improve farm efficiency and productivity," he says.
Ben’s view is, as part of a co-op, Farm Source is essentially a farmer’s business partner and, by extension, so is he. "When it comes to Farm Source, farmers are at the centre of everything we do. Our goal out on the farm is to help them make more milk more profitably. We regularly go above and beyond to make that happen for our farmers," says Ben.
The result, unsurprisingly, is farmers who turn to their TSR for advice and have trust in what they say.
What really excites me is it’s different for every farm and it’s ever-evolving with new products and ideas.
"Farmers trust my advice and expertise because I’ve been on their side of the fence. That’s coupled with a relevant field of study and a genuine passion for what they’re trying to achieve," says Ben.
"Recently I’ve been working through farmers spring cropping plans to ensure their cropping systems are suited to them and their on-farm needs. [It involves] working closely to develop plans to maximise the available feed and cover any feed deficits. This is achieved by targeted crops such as chicory in the summer dry and fodder beet for high-value late lactation and winter feed," says Ben.
Specialists from Nufarm, Agriseeds and PGG Wrightson Seeds provide Farm Source TSRs with a great support network and back-up advice when required.
"We also get them involved in on-farm field days as farmers appreciate their input as well," says Ben.
Outside of work, Ben’s small beef breeding herd keeps him busy and he enjoys hunting and diving. He is also very involved with local A&P shows.