When it comes to growing fodder beet, Canterbury TSR Mark Waldron is a ‘go to’ guy. Of course, being a humble sort he’s the last to admit it, but he has grown countless hectares of the crop and has managed several fodder beet events in the Southland and South Canterbury region.
Mark looks after farmers in the Methven, Temuka and Waimate regions where the cows are starting to be dried off with some heading off to winter grazing. The fodder beet Mark has helped farmers grow is being fed to the milkers as farmers look to preparing for the next season.
For Mark, helping his customers farm profitably and efficiently is the aim of the game. “I am more interested in doing the right thing rather than making a sale. I firmly believe Farm Source’s focus is all about helping our farmers run a profitable business and remain an integral part of their Fonterra business,” he says.
“I really enjoy seeing a good crop I have helped grow that hasn’t cost the farmer a fortune. I get real satisfaction out of giving advice to my farmers that has saved them money and hasn’t compromised the crop grown,” says Mark.
Recently, he worked with a farmer who wanted to spray for white butterfly in a rape crop.
“I suggested he hold fire as there were heaps of beneficial insects flying about and there was hardly any leaf damage. We didn’t end up spraying at all and ended up with a great crop,” says Mark, who is quick to credit the great support he gets from the local Nufarm reps around agronomy.
“Also Stevie from Seedforce has been full of enthusiasm and keen to help wherever she can,” he says.
Mark’s mainland farming roots are certainly deep. Born into a farming family, he was raised on a high country run near Omarama in North Otago and moved to a farm near Rakaia at age 15. The 11 years spent working on sheep and cropping farms were also vital training for his current role, as was the 18 months he spent working in a small supermarket in a tourist town in South Westland.
“That was where I learned about retail really fast, as they completed up to 2,000 transactions a day through the peak season,” he says.
Mark’s career with Farm Source began in 2001 at the Ashburton Anchormart bulk store where he helped with deliveries. He was assistant manager by 2003 as the store transitioned to Ashburton RD1, before leaving to be store manager of the Oamaru branch the following year. He stayed there for seven years then took a job as South Island Territory Manager with NZAgbiz, the Fonterra-owned company that makes premium milk replacers.
“After my time at NZAgbiz I am really aware of the importance of well-fed young stock, in particular, and feel that corners cut here will lead to compromised animal performance in the future.”
In 2014 Mark returned to the Farm Source family as a TSR ready to put his knowledge to use in a more ‘on-farm’ role.
Mark is married to Bronwyn - a primary school teacher - and in his spare time he indulges his love of most sports, especially golf, rugby and cricket.
“My main hobby is pretending to be a farmer on my 20 acres and putting in to practice the good things I see my farmers doing.”