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SmartFarmer • February 2014
Solar energy choice saves overheads
AN increasing number of SA businesses
are turning to solar energy to cut their
electricity expenses, with systems now
more affordable than ever.
Even without government subsidies,
costs have come down in recent years,
making it a very economical and prudent
In many cases, the cost of installing a
solar system can be the same as buying in
electricity from a retailer over a period of
"All over Australia, business owners and
operators are now reducing their over-
heads by producing their own electricity
and increasing their profits," said Graham
Smith, Braemac Energy.
"For many businesses, their demand
is at exactly the same time as the solar
produces its power -- during the day."
It can even reduce costs further because
of the solar panels' shading effect from the
hot sun on the roof.
Another hidden benefit is the reduced
load on the electrical infrastructure.
During the recent heatwave in SA and
Vic, wholesale prices were considerably
lower than in past years because more
than 350,000 private homes and businesses
were generating solar power.
This helped keep retail prices down and
had the effect of keeping the power on
during times of peak demand. For any
business that depends on refrigeration,
this can be a lifesaver.
Another reason for the success of photo-
voltaic solar is low maintenance costs.
"Because there are virtually no moving
parts in a solar system -- apart from a
couple of cooling fans -- there is no wear
and tear that you can expect with a diesel
generator, for example," Mr Smith said.
"Cleaning your panels with water once
or twice a year can quite often cost noth-
ing, and will keep your system performing
at 100 per cent."
As with many things in life, it is
extremely important that a system live-up
"A properly designed and installed
system should be tailored to suit each
customer's needs," Mr Smith said. "When
it comes to commercial and industrial-sized
systems, you can't take a 'one size fits all'
approach, and you definitely can't sell over
the phone. At Braemac Energy, we take
design seriously and have fully accredited
designers in most state capitals. It is very
important that the customer knows exactly
what is being proposed, and is consulted
through the entire design process."
• Details: www.braemacenergy.com.au
Smith in front of a
6kW solar system
Primary School. He
says systems should
always be tailored to
suit individual needs.
stick for this
one -- he's found
an interesting old
LEFT: This pup
has found a small
stick to chew on.
Are you the problem?
IT is bushfire time and everyone
in the North is on their guard,
particularly those near the
Last month I fielded a number of
questions, and one of them may be
common to a lot of pet owners.
I've also had a conversation with
an owner about his working dogs
and heatwave conditions.
THIS scenario is probably hap-
pening to a lot of pet owners and
I can assure them it is not jealousy
or revenge. My best guess is there
are two main reasons why your
dog is doing this.
The first is that she may be afraid.
When dogs become anxious and
afraid, they like to chew. They
generally pick on things that smell
strongly of you, such as socks,
undies and shoes. You could call it
If my guess is right, you have to
stop being a 'fusser' when you leave
in the morning, because that is what
is triggering this behaviour. Be far
more confident. Be a leader. Stand
tall. Chin up high as you leave.
There should be an area in your
house -- such as a laundry or even
the garage -- where she cannot
destroy anything of value.
There is another reason for your
dog's behaviour -- she may be bored.
If she has not had her morning
run or some decent exercise -- she
may be bored.
The best way to exercise your dog
is to get her to follow you on a bike,
at speed. Depending on her size, she
may need more than four kilometres
Pet shops have all kinds of gadgets
that you can pack food into and the
food is very hard to get out. If you
give her something like that, by the
time she has all the food out she
should be pretty tired and will have
As for little dogs, people do not
like to leave them outside for any
length of time but a dog is a dog
and needs to be outside. If you can
organise a run with secure fencing,
safe from vermin, and leave her with
a juicy bone, she will run around
happily all day.
IN the world of good stockmen
there is a rule called the 20-20 rule,
and it goes like this: a dog works for
20 minutes and then has water and
rests for 20 minutes while another
Most stock working dogs should
weigh between 16 kilograms and
20kg, and most of that weight is
Dogs cannot cool down through
their skin (as we can) -- they only
cool down by panting and having
their pads immersed in water.
If you consider that their panting
tongue is about 15 centimetres from
the ground, and their feet are in
constant contact with a paddock or
road that is generating a great deal of
heat, you do not have to be a rocket
scientist to work out that they will
get dehydrated very quickly.
Imagine what it's like in a heat-
wave. When their body becomes Ask the Working Dog Whisperer
Please send your questions to: email@example.com
When I leave home in the
morning I try to do the
right thing by my dog
and give her toys, lots of
water and some nibbles.
But when I come home the
place looks as if a bomb hit
it! Clothes are torn up all
over the place, the couch
and chairs are chewed,
and everything is dragged
around. Is she doing this
because she is jealous or is
it some kind of revenge?
In the middle of an
extreme heatwave, a caller
said he had been using his
dogs from about 5.30am
to 12noon to muster and
move sheep -- that is seven
hours! He said they were
"a little buggered". I was
with BEN PAGE
Working Dog Centre
dehydrated, their blood becomes
thicker and the heart has to work
even harder to pump the thickened
blood to oxygenate their little body.
Meanwhile, the thoughtless han-
dler is sitting in his air-conditioned
ute, or on his motorbike, with the
wind cooling him down.
It gets worse ... the next words of
wisdom I heard from this caller was
that he does not feed his dogs while
they are working.
"They don't eat well when we are
working," he said.
Is it any wonder they don't eat
well? Especially if they are being
worked to near dehydration?
In the human world, it would be
equivalent to having an athlete run
a marathon in a heat wave, and then
refuse to feed his body and replace
all the energy he has burned off. I
doubt he would last two days before
Sometimes I have been accused of
being too blunt and 'calling it as I
see it'. But that will not stop me from
calling this example for what it is -- it
is simply cruelty. Lack of education
-- or ignorance -- is no excuse.
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