As a qualified greenkeeper, Ngatea TSR Jeff Hadwin knows a thing or two about grass. The 220 Hauraki Plains farmers he looks after also benefit from his decades-long experience in the agronomy and fertiliser sectors.
“Fertiliser and agronomy are my passions and I’ve been involved in that part of the industry one way or another for 33 years,” says Jeff, who has studied Nutrient Management at Massey University.
His interest in agronomy began when he left school “back in the dark ages” and did an apprenticeship as a greenkeeper. Since then Jeff’s done everything from sharemilking to owning a dairy farm and spending nine years in the fertiliser industry. Some of that time was spent in the same North Waikato area, so he came into the TSR role already knowing many of the farmers who are now his customers.
Based at the Ngatea store, the focus for Jeff now is helping local farmers with regrassing and repairing the damage the soil has endured after a long period of adverse weather.
The rich fertile Hauraki Plains were created following extensive drainage of the peat swamp lands. An extensive network of drains, canals, stopbanks and floodgates protect 64,700 hectares of farmland, but record-breaking rainfall last year took out a lot of pasture.
“We’re still mopping up the damage and we’re putting a lot of new grass in and waiting for that to come through.”
This weather forced many farmers to feed out more supplements than usual at this time of year to compensate for the shortfall. Extra feed comes at an extra cost but Jeff says the support Farm Source can give those farmers is a huge help. “The offers we have like the Farm Source dollars, various partners like fuel and power and the ability to offer deferred terms – it all really helps our farmers.”
Jeff says it’s well known that Hauraki farmers are a resilient bunch. He had several customers whose farms were completely under water at this time last year.
“Most have now regrassed in some form for the second and for some third times and with the recent rain it's looking good,” says Jeff.
The team at the Ngatea store, led by store manager Mark Kyd, play a big part in ensuring Jeff can do his job effectively.
“It is a fantastic team I work with and I couldn’t achieve what I do without their support,” says Jeff, who spends a fair bit of time at the store talking to customers.
Married with a couple of kids and step-kids, Jeff and his wife enjoy travelling and motorbike tours and often combine the two.