Thermal weeding gets up a head of steam

Citycare Property is steaming ahead with plans to reduce its use of herbicides by adopting thermal weeding.

As one of New Zealand’s leading providers of maintenance and facilities management services across New Zealand, Citycare Property’s contracts currently include a five-year contract to maintain and manage all community-owned buildings and parks in South Auckland, as well as a range of landscape, facilities management, graffiti and water contracts in Christchurch and all around the country.

Many of Citycare Property’s contracts include maintaining reserves, cemeteries, parks and playgrounds. As every home gardener knows, weeds are a constant battle, and it’s no different for Citycare. Our open space maintenance staff work to keep the weeds down while also keeping a keen eye on the environment.

Thermal weed control involves spraying weeds with a fine jet of water at 120 degrees Celsius. After just a few seconds the weeds change colour, start to die and a couple of days later the full effect of the treatment can be seen.

Read the full story… 

 

Considerations and Advantages when Using Satusteam©

With the increasing knowledge about the health effects of repeated exposure to glyphosate, landcare groups are opting for a range of alternatives.

‘Steam’ has proven to be a valuable tool, particularly for some invasive species like Mother of Millions and Tiger Pear, but before you spend your hard fought for grant money, consider some of the features that will make huge differences in your productivity.

There is more detail to follow, but first, let’s destroy a myth about steam weed control. Steam, the vapour seen rising from applicator heads, is the minute vapour droplets have no lethal temperature associated with it. It’s the large coalesced droplets of boiling water that are the treatment fluid. This fluid is a mixture of saturated steam and boiling water, which we call Satusteam©.
It is not generated in a pressure vessel, like a soil steriliser or home heating system, but in a continuous flow hot water heat exchanger. It delivers enough volume, delivered at a 98°-100°C at the weed to explode soft leaved cells on contact. Thermal shock takes just 1/10th of a second.
We have an in-depth article comparing various thermal control methods to Satusteam©, click here to read it.

To arrange a demonstration or find out more, call 0800 112 890.

When fighting weeds with steam – volume matters

In landcare situations, you need serious killing power to fight difficult weeds. Our machines were first developed to treat weeds in municipal areas such as crack and crevices in footpaths and paving. 5 litres a minute works well in that situation, but in landcare and regeneration environments you will want a machine that delivers 10 litres.

Vegetation in soil and mulch grows more vigorously than in the harsh pedestrian environment.

The roots are more established and often the vegetation being controlled may be a ground cover or established grass. A 5L/min machine such as the SW800 can be used but productivity will increase dramatically, as well as your satisfaction level, with double the volume. Our contracting customers, who have their choice of machines, will choose the SW900 for controlling weeds in the soil every time.

The SW900 can be set up with dual reels and have 2 operators, adding to its versatility.

Temperature up close is key

Back in the early 2000s, I learnt a valuable lesson. Hot water of 97°C makes progress/work much slower than using boiling water when the aim is to explode plant cells. Weedtechnics SW machines superheat the water as it passes through the steel pipe inside the burner chamber. Because it is pressurised, the water can be heated up to 115°-120°C without boiling. Pressurisation raises the physical boiling temperature of water to over 300°C. We maintain this pressure through our delivery hose and lance, right up until it passes through our unique nozzle system. What this means is that your superheated water doesn’t flash into saturated steam and boiling water (Satusteam©) until it is within 5cm of the target. There is no time for it to cool in the atmosphere, therefore transferring maximum heat into the target vegetation.

The depressurisation advantages

The Satusteam© system pressurises the water for two reasons. Firstly, it raises the physical boiling point of the water allowing superheating. Secondly, it allows delivery of the super-heated water over any distance up to 100m from the boiler and still delivers Satusteam© at 100°C.

Our patented nozzle system depressurises the superheated water; to give a safe and controlled delivery. The maximum-heat Satusteam coats the vegetation rapidly, which gives you great productivity. Depressurised Satusteam© does not displace mulch, compact soils, inject into desirable roots or damage soil structure. This feature also allows the machines to be used for cleaning of lichen, moss, algae and more without damaging the surface beneath, unlike a high pressure waterblaster (alternatively pressure nozzles can be used with the machines for pressurised cleaning).

Reach and rewind makes work easy

Landcare and revegetation works are rarely in compact areas. So, look for a unit that can deliver the volume and temperature over a long distance. Because of our depressurisation advantage, the Weedtechnics Satusteam© system can deliver Satusteam© at 100°C up to 100m from the boiler. Our standard landcare reels can house 60m of covered hose on a rewind reel. This gives incredible reach and versatility to your work.

Water carrying capacity

We have established that 10L/minute is going to give you the most productivity when dealing with weeds in broad landcare environments.
A 400L water tank will give less than 40 minutes of work. A 1000L tank will give you 90 minutes. Consider the effect on productivity with having a limited water supply.

Variety is the spice of life

Mother of millions, kikuyu, couch, hydrocotyl and similar ground covering vegetation is best treated using a 35cm or 60cm wide covered head.  The covered environment encapsulates the heat ensuring there is the maximum transfer of heat to the plant material. Covered heads also allow application under the foliage of desirable plants without fear of off-target damage.

Tiger pear is best treated using an open head, that can be used to coat the entire above ground portion of the plant. With the same head, tussock grasses are managed well having a good dose of 10L/minute of Satusteam© delivered into their crown. When you are done with the work on site and want to sanitise your vehicle tyres and remove any seed from plant and equipment, you will want to be able to use a pressure nozzle in your Satusteam© weeding machine. Weedtechnics have developed the threaded quick coupling system that allows you to change between nozzles within 90 seconds.

In most cases, following safe work methods, you may not need to turn off the machine or cool it down. This can be followed up with a steam spike injection.

Technical support 

Use of burners and boilers by landcare practitioners is new, so you want to know that there is support just a call away and that they know how to troubleshoot. Weedtechnics have developed this system over the last 20 years and have been using our US made, clean burning, fuel efficient boilers for the past 10 years.

We know intimately how to troubleshoot and have assisted many customers get up and running with phone support, without them having to leave their sites.

 

If you’d like to discuss how we can make the Satusteam© technology work for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks to our team in Australia for this content.

SW900 and Rowtech Video

This is some extraordinary drone footage of a SW900 and Rowtech set up, being operated from the set of a tractor.  The hydraulics were created by the owner of the machine, Weedtechnics can also supply our equivalent Hydro-Boom set up.
This is an organic farm producing Haskap berries, which are native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in countries such as Canada.

 

Hi-Tech Aloe Vera

Take an in-depth look at how we helped Hi-tech Aloe Vera develop a holistic, sustainable weed management plan for their organic farm.

We cover the problems they were facing, the steam weeding set up we used, the plan we developed together and the impact that had on their business.

Background.

Hi-tech Aloe Vera is based in Bundaberg, QLD and, as you can probably guess, they specialise in growing Aloe Vera.

They had a problem with Kikuyu grass continuously growing over their weed mat at the base of their Aloe Vera plants. As they’re an organic farm they used whippersnipping and hand weeding to deal with the weeds, however, this was a costly process. Not only did they cause physical damage the Aloe Vera but it was very time consuming adding to the production costs, they’d have to go weeding with three employees every two weeks!

The Set Up.

Adrian, the owner of Hi-tech Aloe Vera, went all in and purchased the SW900. He used it to run two hand-held applicators or two 40cm Rowtech heads. He also bought the mini-skid and attached the SW900 to the front of his tractor using a fork setup.

He then set up the water tank in a trailer behind the tractor and, using a sureflow electric pump, transferred the water from the tank to the SW900 up front. Adrian created hydraulic arms to mount the Rowtech heads onto his tractor.

You can check out the set up below.

Organic Weed Control Set Up

The Treatment.

For the first treatment, Adrian went through with the handheld applicator heads and steamed the Kikuyu grass that was growing over the weed mat right up to the base of the Aloe Vera.

Steam Hand Application

That first treatment killed off a lot of the grass and then through subsequent treatments the Kikuyu receded all the way back to the grass strips where it first came from.

The rest of the treatments were done using the rowtech heads which reduced the labour from 3 people to 1.

They also got into the routine of running through the plantation every 3-4 weeks (depending on the time of year), doing this they were able to reach speeds of 3-4 km/hour increasing from the initial application speed of 0.5km/hour.

Rowtech Weed Control

Post Note: Hi-tech Aloe Vera changed its operations to import organically grown Aloe Vera from Mexico and the property was then sold. Hi Tech Aloe Vera became solely a manufacturer of Aloe Vera products.

Rowtech Tracking