Grapevine Management Study

Over the course of this year, we were privileged to take part in demonstration trials funded by Wine Australia, evaluating alternative weed control measures undervine in vineyards compared to current practices.

Satusteam was applied using a Sumo (SW2800) travelling at 1km/hr, with two – three steam treatments 4 weeks apart.

Other alternative measures examined were acetic acid, pine oil, flame and mulch.

Unsurprisingly, our Satusteam treatment was one of the only options which didn’t impact soil chemistry in some way.  This is something we already knew from our own experience, and a recent study by Hort Innovation.

What was surprising, was the cost/hectare comparison chart. (all prices given are in Australian Dollars)

Now this of course doesn’t include the initial outlay of purchasing a Sumo set up.
But it does give us a great reference for how long it would take to recover the initial cost and reap savings, versus other treatment options.

Let’s say you’re currently treating a modest 10 hectares with pine oil, and your particular climate and weed species mean you’re treating three times per year. That’s $13,080 per year, versus the equivalent Satusteam running cost of $2610.  With a yearly saving of over $10,000 your Sumo set up could have paid itself off within a handful of years.  These savings of course magnify, the larger the area being treated.

We also had a really positive result in terms of the NVDI, a measure of how much live vegetation is present (the lower the better).
Repeatedly, straw mulch gave the best result.  And as every horticulturalist from any background knows, mulch is the penultimate solution to soil health and weed control.  However if we revisit the costing table above, we’ll see it’s also prohibitively expensive! Ouch!

So it was a pleasant surprise to see Satusteam coming second place, in two of three trial sites.

An added bonus, is that Satusteam and organic mulches supplement each other nicely.
Without solely relying on it to control weeds you can spread that mulch a little thinner, to still gain the soil health benefits but save some $, and any weeds that do push through can be instantly knocked back down with Satusteam – our treatment is depressurised right at the point of contact, so the mulch isn’t disturbed in any way.

Plus, any irrigation generated from the Satusteam treatment (nearly 400ml/second over approx 2.5sqm) is locked in by that mulch to provide maximum benefit to the crop.

What a win-win-win situation!

Report on New Weed Control Technologies

Hort Innovation, Australia’s representative body for their horticulture industry, have released a new report examining up and coming weed control technologies.

Benefits and drawbacks of each technology are noted, and each is rated out of 5 for Soil Wealth (impact on soil health, biology etc) and ICP (minimising risks to environment, crop, growers and reducing chemical use).

We’re thrilled to announce that our Satusteam technology topped the charts with full 5/5 ratings for both criteria!
The other technologies are well worth investigating as well, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to reducing chemical use in horticulture.

Check out the other alternatives and full report HERE.

Christchurch and Wairarapa Councils Explore Organic Alternatives

Since mid-2016, Christchurch City Council has been reducing its use of chemical weedkillers by exploring organic alternatives and saturated steam.

They have bought a truck fitted with a 2000 litre water tank and a boiler unit and are using it the eastern suburbs to blast weeds growing by the roadside with jetted super-heated water.

“The boiler unit heats the water under pressure to a temperature of 120 degrees. The super-heated water is then jet blasted onto the weeds. It essentially cooks the weeds and kills them,’’ says Council Transport Operations Manager Steffan Thomas.

“We’re still in the early stages of analysing the benefits of this new methodology but so far it does seem to be pretty effective.’’

Citycare has recently rolled out a second truck that can thermally kill weeds.

source: Newsline


Wairarapa councils have been considering the issue for even longer, since 2015.

Read the article at the Wairarapa Times-Age.

Brendan Tait is the owner/operator of Wellington-based Envirosteam, a contracting business which uses Weedtechnics’ machines to kill weeds, was approached for comment by the Times-Age;

He said New Zealand should lead the pack in finding alternatives to poison. “We’re all about the clean and green – but we’ve also got this old boy mentality of ‘spray it, she’ll be right’.”

Tait said steam killing of weeds was possible at a council level, but it took more commitment.

Four to six weeks after steaming, remaining seeds and taproots would sprout again, “but once you give it a second dose – then a third, its gone, its dead, there’s nothing coming back”.

However, the process was slower than using chemical spray applicators. “It can take twice as long – because I’m targeting, not blanket spraying.”

In terms of protective gear, Tait had no worries of carcinogens when steaming. He said steam could be applied in shorts and a T-shirt if you wanted to, with leather gloves to guard yourself when handling the hot applicator.
Tait was interested to see where New Zealand’s chemical conversation would lead after the Monsanto case. “It depends on what you read and by who. Sixty years ago, cigarette smoking wasn’t [considered] bad for your health.”

We’re interested to see where New Zealand’s chemical conversation is going as well, we know what we have to say about it! How about you?

Steaming Weeds Dead

ABC News gets the scoop on our Saturated Steam Weed Control solution:

A new device has been developed by a weed control company that uses the power of hot water to kill the cells in weeds.

Developer Jeremy Winer, from Weedtechnics, explained how it worked. “As it (the water) comes through, it’s actually boiling at the weed, which is where we want it to be boiling. You’ll see the change in the colour on the weeds – that means all the cells are exploded. Within a day, it will be brown and had it.”

Read the whole article here.