By Jacqueline Latimer

SOME consider him an advocate for alternative energy, others believe his methods are controversial, but either way, Peter Stevens says his atmospheric ionisation research machine can make it rain.

And there is no special dancing ritual or outlandish headdress required.

Mr Stevens simply switches on the machine, which then according to his website creates atmospheric ionisation that makes a vortex, which draws in a surrounding atmospheric water vapour and leads to a cloud or fog mass.

The amount of rain received or the success of making it rain depends on the amount of water vapour held in the atmosphere and the charge thats in it.

Tamworth-based Mr Stevens said that basically means the machine charges the air with a magnetically- charged light.

The self-confessed inventor and imaginer said the machine was first invented in the 1970s by rainmaker Jack Toyer.

He worked out that when storms would build up, it would create a static effect on his radio, so he essentially built a machine that would make static, Mr Stevens said.

Mr Stevens used this machine for a number of years himself before retiring it in the mid-90s.

I put it away in 1994 and swore Id never bring it out again, he said.

One reason was because I copped a lot of criticism, but it was also because the Moree cotton growers didnt want it to rain. Consequently, they were in drought for 12 years.

Mr Stevens then built a replica in 2006 which has been used in many locations across Australia and also overseas.

We have used it in Phoenix, Arizona and Virginia in the US, but predominantly out of Phoenix, and of course, weve used it all around Australia, including in Broome and Darwin.

Moree cotton grower Bruce Harris hired Mr Stevens to use the machine which resulted in rain.

We did use it and we might say it saved our bacon a bit, Mr Harris said.

We desperately needed some rain. We got a bit and that was a huge help.

Im not knocking him. I think one day he really might have something he might already.

Who would have thought 50 years ago that today wed all be walking around with a phone in our pocket?

Weve also got to admit that forecasting the rain is 100 per cent better than it used to be. They can give us an 80 per cent prediction of rain now, so maybe hes onto something.

Mr Stevens boasts a 100 per cent success rate and he now wants to help out as many farmers as he can.

We have a rollout fee which is us on location. If they cant afford that, then we will come up with an arrangement that suits, he said.

We will also predict how much rain they get and if they dont get any, then they dont have to pay.