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Beyond the Bale : June 2019
By the end of this year, 25-year-old Hugh McKay aims to develop a prototype automated trailer system that is capable of building farm fences, removing the physical labour normally required and vastly decreasing the time needed for installation. FENCING? NO SWEAT! Agricultural fencing is essential on all livestock farms, but installing it is a costly, time consuming and labour-intensive process. However, there could soon be a much cheaper and effective solution, thanks to a new project being undertaken through an AWI-sponsored Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture. A dislike for installing fencing on his family’s sheep and cattle property at Henty in NSW has inspired Hugh McKay to develop a fully automatic fencing trailer. Hugh studied product design and engineering at Swinburne University, and previously worked for Adshel in Melbourne. In need of a break, and with his parents glad of an extra pair of hands during the drought, he returned to the family farm a year ago. “I’ve always thought fencing was a very slow and tedious process, moving back and forth up the fence a number of times. I decided to apply my product design engineering background and develop a fully automated fencing trailer, the Smart Fencer,” Hugh says. “While there are some products on the market that help speed up some components of the fence (post drivers or wire spinners) there is yet to be a completely automated solution that will complete a fence in one run.” The GPS controlled fencing trailer can be towed by any standard ute and Hugh aims for it to be capable of completing well over 10 km of fencing in a day by a single individual. With ON FARM 51 the Smart Fencer being able to complete all the components of constructing a fence in one run, it’s estimated to run more than 10 times the speed of an average fencing contractor team. Inside the Smart Fencer will be a specialised feeder system that allows up to 40 fence posts to be automatically fed directly to the post rammer where they are automatically pounded into the ground. The system will be a self- stabilising unit ensuring that the fence posts are always rammed vertically into the ground. The Smart Fencer utilises specialized GPS technology which enables the operator to plot out the position of the fence to cm accuracy. Using this technology, the user can quickly and easily see the distance that the fence will cover, the number of posts that will be needed, the amount of wire and netting that will be required, as well as an accurate estimated time of installation with the Smart Fencer. “Once you’ve got all your posts in the machine and your wire spinner’s set up, then you just drive to the beginning of the fence, tie on your wires to the strainer and you’re ready to go” Hugh says. “From there it will pull the fence posts out individually, bang them into the ground, direct you to go forward to the next post and build the fence as you drive along comfortably in the cabin of the ute.” The Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture are coordinated by ABARES and are open to young people aged 18-35 years working or studying in rural industries. The annual awards aim to encourage the uptake of science, innovation and technology in rural industries. Hugh was presented with his award in March and he aims to complete a working prototype of his trailer by the end of 2019. MORE INFORMATION email@example.com www.wool.com/scienceawards