Jess Morrison wasn’t raised on a farm, but she visited one enough to know farming was the industry for her.
"We have family friends on a sheep and beef property. I spent a lot of time out there on the farm with them when I was younger and this sparked my interest in the agriculture industry," says Jess, the new TSR for the Featherston and Carterton stores.
She studied agriculture at school and then gained a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Massey University.
"Helping out as an extra hand/calf rearer on dairy farms over summer breaks from University gave me the first taste for dairy farming and I learnt a lot from influential farmers in this region through that experience," says Jess.
She’s been in the TSR role only a short while but has hit the ground running, helping Wairarapa farmers from Mt Bruce to Lake Ferry and over the hill to Upper Hutt.
"Farmers in the Wairarapa are currently gearing up for both mating and cropping. With mating, they are always after a more compact calving pattern and a low empty rate, this has been a focus at recent discussion groups. The Wairarapa can typically get very hot and dry over the summer months so our farmers are weighing up their options to get them through a tight feed supply. Summer crops are going in early this year given the favourable conditions of late and supplementary feeds being made or brought in. Irrigation supplies are also flying out the door, as farmers are starting up their irrigators early this year," she says.
Before joining Farm Source, Jess spent four years in a consulting role for a fertiliser company specialising in fine particle fertilisers. No surprise then that soil and plant science are her areas of special interest.
"Given my previous role I have an in-depth knowledge of how healthy soil plays an important role in pasture performance. Pasture is one the greatest assets on our dairy farms and getting the most out of this resource is crucial for successful milk production."
Tapping into the expertise of vendor reps has helped boost Jess’s knowledge in other key areas.
"Vendor reps have been incredibly valuable to me settling in to this role. They are always available when needed and provide great advice to educate me further on their particular products or provide solutions I may not have thought of first up. They’re available to come out in the field with me when needed to back up the advice I give to farmers."
She recalls an example recently where she worked closely with a vendor rep from a seed company to help a farmer recover from pasture damage.
"A farmer rang up wanting advice on how he can best maximise pasture growth on his runoff after severe winter damage. The main reason for this being he’s wanting to get a good harvest of silage off it over late spring/early summer. With support from the seed rep, I advised the best option was to use and stitch in a high-performing Italian ryegrass which would withstand and establish well in the cool of early spring. I recommended giving it a light grazing to encourage tillering of the new grass undersown and to strengthen it up for the first cut of silage," says Jess, who lives in Pahiatua with partner Shaun.