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Charging up a hotwire

Keeping the kangaroos out – new uses for stand-alone power

If you want to keep the kangaroos out of your crop, one trick used by farmers is to lay an electric cable about a foot off the ground, also known as a hotwire.

It doesn’t do any harm to the animals that try to cross it, but it does give a jolt to scare them away from the crops.

For farmers Romina Nicoletti and Nick Priest, the hotwire is a handy tool for keeping the roos out of their crop on their Elachbutting property, particularly in two paddocks that are adjacent to bushland.

“We run the hotwire right around the two paddocks and it works a treat,” says Romina.

“But only if the power is reliably on. And that’s an issue for us out here. Anything - wind, rain and heat - all cause the power to go out around here.

“It’s not such a problem at the house as we have a generator back-up, but out at those two paddocks, that’s the only power use out there. “

However Romina's problem is about to be solved. Western Power is installing a stand-alone power system (SPS), with solar panels and a battery, to ensure constant and reliable power to the hot-wire.  

“I’m delighted,” says Romina. “It’s only a little unit, as it will only be powering up the hotwire, but it means the hotwire will be on all the time, which means it can do its job.”

The SPS will replace power which currently comes from a transformer that used to power a house, now long-gone. The transformer is at the end of a spur line, and given it will no longer be needed, Romina is hopeful that means the poles and wires along the line can go as well.

“There’s 42km of poles and wires running to that transformer, and we’re hoping they will be able to get rid of them as they won’t be needed. We’d be really pleased about that as they are a bushfire risk, and a bit of a pain when you are trying to crop around poles with the GPS.”

The SPS was installed in September and Romina and Nick are already thinking about where they could use SPS next on the farm.

Even though power supply to their homestead and sheds also has its moments, Romina says they’d prefer to trial SPS at their workers quarters.

“We run a really big workshop that pretty power hungry, so that feels like a bigger job. But the quarters are on a different line to the homestead, and they’re not as power hungry as the workshops.

“So if this first unit works well, the quarter might be the next option for SPS.”

Find out about how SPS has transformed power reliability for other WA farmers, Ken Schlueter and Ian McKenna.