Making straining that fence easier and stress free

Richard Fox, of Rural Innovations, will demonstrate his Serca Fence Strainer daily on the hour during the 2018 field days.

One of the most innovative tools for straining a fence to be developed in the modern era will be demonstrated on-site at this year’s Henty Machinery Field Days.

The Serca Fence Strainer, an initiative of locally based Rural Innovations, will be demonstrated on the hour, every hour, during the field days on September 18-21.

Richard and Fabiana Fox, of Tumut, founded Rural Innovations in 2016 to invest resources into innovations in all aspects of farming and rural industries.

An engineer by trade, Richard comes from a strong farming heritage, with his family originally dairy farmers on the Queensland Darling Downs before moving into beef in northern NSW.

Richard was inspired by his father’s inventive ideas on the land.

“We pride ourselves with outside the box thinking and our ability to take an idea, and make it into something great,’’ Mr Fox said.

One of his first ideas was the Serca Fence Strainers, an entry in the 2017 Henty Machine of the Year Award.

“By combining proven principles with modern techniques in an innovative design, we have developed a tool that will take the frustration and stress out of maintaining fences,’’ Mr Fox said.

“I was helping a friend in the Hunter Valley with fencing when I came up with the idea.

“It has gone through about a dozen concepts and tested by farmers with the feedback used to arrive at a really good product.

“Among my first customers were fencing contractors who could see the advantages.

“This is the best improvement for a long time in an actual tool for straining a fence.

“The winch mechanism makes it ideal for straining old fences as well.’’

Rural Innovations received a government grant under Jobs for NSW to assist with the initial manufacturing stage.

The vast majority of the strainer is manufactured in Australia with the only exception being the winch mechanism.

“I have a test bed in the backyard behind the shed at home – a few posts and all different sizes and dimensions of wire ranging from low and high tensile, barb and the various coatings,’’ he said.

“Most landholders are guilty of over-tensioning fences – we all love to hear that beautiful guitar twang when we tension the wire, but this is actually bad for the fence.

“Metal is elastic and it needs to stretch and spring back – but once it is over-stretched, it won’t spring back, resulting in the fence losing its tension.

“That is a big factor why fences fail. Seasonal conditions can also affect the wire – an over-tensioned fence in the summer can contract in the winter, pulling posts out and can even snap wires.’’

The SERCA strainer features hardened jaws for extended tool life, spring activated wire grabs with an ergo-friendly handle, in-built tension gauge, and removeable second pair of wire grabs for repairing fences.

There is also a geared tensioning mechanism providing easy operation and eliminating the risk of “spring back’’.

This reduces the force required to be exerted by the user by 50 per cent.

The compact unit can be easily stored in the glove compartment in a vehicle, in a toolbox on a motorbike or in an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).

It can be easily modified so the 2.5m chain can be used as a tie down, a calf puller or light duty winch (rated at 250kg under Australian Standards).

The SERCA Fence Strainer was officially launched at the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days last year and won a NAB Agribusiness Award of Excellence at the Australian National Field Days at Orange.

Mr Fox said the strainers had been popular with farmers in the central NSW tablelands, central NSW, Riverina and NSW western division, plus there had been international sales to the US and Scotland.

At Henty, the strainers will come with a heavy-duty carry bag and Kevlar reinforced fencing gloves.

Mr Fox is working with other inventors on potential products.

“The hardest part of these innovations is getting them to market, ensuring we produce a high quality tool at an acceptable price,’’ he said.