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!