Archive for the ‘Weed Control’ Category


Dienstag, April 19th, 2016

A mobile steam facility for sterilising substrate and soil was launched in the first quarter of 2016 at one of the largest national seed producers in Vietnam.  The leading company is implementing the extremely cost-effective sandwich-type steam procedure for the first time using a hood with pins to sanitise topsoil up to a depth of 25cm under covered greenhouses, and thereby fully liberates them from weeds and soil-borne diseases.

Very effective sandwich steaming with two steaming hoods with spikes
Very effective sandwich steaming with two steaming hoods with spikes

Here, two manually portable steaming hoods with a surface cover of 8m² and 20cm deep special hollow pins are applied in each case. Both hoods are used in parallel and alternately moved. A steam chamber with a steam output of 400kg per hour is therefore used.  The system’s ground coverage amounts to up to 400m² per working day, in which the soil is heated to more than 80°C within seven minutes at a depth of 25cm.

Steaming of coco peat in special steaming bunkers with vacuum system
Steaming of coco peat in special steaming bunkers with vacuum system

In addition to steaming surfaces with the sandwich-type steaming method using a hood with pins, the company also sanitises large quantities of coco peat substrate. Therefore, special steam shelters were constructed with an extraction system and put into operation. Extraction is made possible using a special drainage system in the base of the individual immovable boxes. A mobile steam boiler, Type „S 350“, from the company MSD with a steam output of 400kg/h is also used for this purpose. The system works with the greatest efficiency and has the ability to fully clean up to 16m³ of coco peat at a target temperature of something above 80°C in one hour. The hot oil requirement rests on the basis of on-site readings with an average ~19L/h.


Dienstag, April 5th, 2016

In the spring of 2016, following a break, the nursery in the town of Böblingen decided to sanitise selected open spaces prior to sowing ornamental flowers in an environmentally friendly manner, by means of steaming weeds and weed seeds following recent years using other procedures in which no comparable, satisfactory results have been achieved.

The public provider therefore utilised the experience of the company mobildampf from Waiblingen ( The company has provided steaming equipment and supervised as well as monitored the individual steaming processes.

Sheet steaming of flower beds in the city of Böblingen
Sheet steaming of flower beds in the city of Böblingen

Highlight beds on public streets were recently identified in the first days of April, which shall be designed as decorative flower arrangements, so-called „highlight beds“, following weed control using superheated steam. The company, mobildampf, has covered and steamed surfaces of up to 120m² in size within 2.5 days using the popular sheet steaming procedure. At the same time, a steam boiler from the company MSD was used with an output of up to 1,000kg steam/h.

The city of Böblingen made a conscious decision to use steam. Extra comparative tests were previously made in 2015 and thereby also left surfaces unsteamed. The results speaks for themselves (photos below). The steamed surfaces are completely weed free and the shoots of ornamental plants sown are clearly visible in rows. On the unsteamed surface (under the surface), the seeds grow uninhibitedly.

Steamed flower bed at Herrenberger Str. in Böblingen - no weeds
Steamed flower bed at Herrenberger Str. in Böblingen – no weeds
Unsteamed flower bed at Calwer street in Böblingen - weeds are everywhere
Unsteamed flower bed at Calwer street in Böblingen – weeds are everywhere

Unsteamed flower bed at Calwer street in Böblingen – weeds are everywhere


Sonntag, August 30th, 2015

The solution to soil-borne problems most primarily with diseases is becoming particularly more urgent for cultivated areas for strawberries. In order to take new routes without chemistry, Karlsruhe Agricultural Office thus decided upon appropriate test areas for sanitising soil using superheated steam to grow strawberries.

The first surfaces were already steamed in May for this purpose. Steam specialist, Mobildampf, carried out the first tests using their own equipment.  The most up-to-date soil steamers come exclusively from the company MSD GmbH with an efficiency of up to 96% when used.

Sheet steaming on strawberry beds. In the front you see treated area which was steamed two months before.
Sheet steaming on strawberry beds. In the front you see treated area which was steamed two months before.

The surfaces were sanitised using the classic sheet steaming procedure. Overall, three 1,000m² sections were sanitised up to and into August using superheated steam up to 20cm deep. It was performed on extremely sandy soil and even incorporated raised beds. The results were rather convincing. Very strong crops are shown in surfaces steamed in May in the foreground of the image shown above. The rows of plants have remained completely weed-free throughout the months. Using an energy efficient procedure, such as hood or sandwich-type steaming, the costs of heating oil can be reduced to around 0.3 euros per m². Steaming consequently lends itself ideally to the sanitisation of surfaces for cultivating strawberries and represents a genuine alternative.


Sonntag, Dezember 2nd, 2012

A large floriculture enterprise near Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, has completed its changeover to hot steam as a soil sanitising medium in greenhouses. Previously they used 40-50 gram hazardous plant protection chemical per square metre – with good results.

However, the prohibition of methyl-bromide by the Montreal Protocol and the requirement to put it into effect in developing countries by 2015 at the latest necessitated to re-think this conventional method.

Mr Marten Barel, a worldwide active specialist in horticulture, found an alternative method in which hot steam is used.

The system including steam boiler was supplied by MSD Corp. (Durbach, Germany) on the basis of the concept developed by Mr Marten Barel.

In the system, a sandwich-type steaming technology is used. The steam is immediately injected into the soil to 20cm depth via hollow pins of a spiked hood made of load-resistant aluminium. Then an average temperature of 80°C is achieved in 6 minutes. This means a complete sanitisation. After the steaming, the soil is free from weeds, weed seeds and soil-borne pests and pathogens across all the 20 cm depth.

Spiked hood with mechanisms for easy lifting-up, lowering and moving
Spiked hood with mechanisms for easy lifting-up, lowering and moving

The steaming process takes place only under glass. The special steaming hood is operated manually, i.e. moved every 6 minutes (due to low labour cost, the company did not want to purchase a semi-automatic solution with hydraulic components). The steamed surface is promptly covered with a sheet to keep the heat in the soil. In this system, the performance is 600 sq. m a day. The energy consumption is about 0.65 l heating oil per square metre. The result is very favourable for the company since especially very sensitive plants, e.g. Lisianthus, positively react on soil steaming.


Dienstag, September 25th, 2012

Timbali Technology Incubator is the first agriculture enterprise in South Africa which uses a steaming boiler (from MSD / Moeschle Corp.) to do completely without the harmful soil- chemical methyl bromide (MeBr) and to use hot steam to disinfect the soil and substrates for cultivation of new plants.

Methyl bromide is a smell-free and colour-free gas. It is used as a soil fumigant at agriculture, floriculture, horticulture and olericulture companies and also at the agriculture enterprise Timbali to control weeds and to eliminate soil-borne pests and pathogens.

Timbali Technology Incubator is the first agriculture enterprise in South Africa which uses a steaming boiler (from MSD / Moeschle Corp.) to do completely without the soil disinfecting chemical methyl bromide (MeBr) hazardous to health and harmful to the environment. Instead of it, for cultivation of new plants, the company uses hot steam to clean the soil and substrates from weeds, pathogens and pests.

Methyl bromide is a smell- and colour-free gas, which was also previously used as a soil fumigant against weeds, soil-borne pests and pathogens at Timbali, especially for cultivation of flowers and vegetables.

The use of methyl bromide had to expire till January 2005, because it enormously endangers the ozone layer of the stratosphere and is very risky for human health. However, in this respect, Africa still lags behind and was given a grace period for implementation of the MeBr prohibition till 2015. As soon as this period has elapsed, the use of this soil fumigant is also prohibited in Africa according to the Montreal Protocol.

Hood steaming at Timbali, South Africa
Hood steaming at Timbali, South Africa

Being the first company which uses a MSD steam boiler for sanitisation of soil in gardening, Timbali has demonstrated its pioneering spirit and is supported by its partner Eskom.

Mobile high-performance steaming boiler of MSD AG (Durbach, Germany) using 200°C superheated steam
Mobile high-performance steaming boiler of MSD Corp. (Durbach, Germany) using 200°C superheated steam

Some representatives of agriculture enterprises visited Timbali at 29th of August 2015 to see the new machine and the introduced steaming technology (mainly hood steaming). Mr Marten Barel, the expert in steaming technology, demonstrated this steaming boiler and explained all system advantages and functions to the visitors.

Now Timbali continues to make this technology public in South Africa and thereby supports the development of small agriculture business.

Video of introduction of the steaming technology at Timbali (click here)

Fully Automated Steaming Robot Is Fully Developed

Sonntag, April 10th, 2011

The steaming robot, which has been developed last year, has left prototype status. End of March MSD Corp., the developer of the steaming robot which received the Indega and Taspo RAM innovation awards , announced that the system has been fully developed and that the German government safety association has approved the machine.

Approval by the government safety organization required further safety measures. Besides optimization of the driver’s console an automatic barrier recognition system has been installed (e.g. for kids) which leads to an emergency stop once activated.

Hence the steaming robot, which is manufactured by the Swiss German company Fobro-Kress, is the first approved robot for outdoor areas in Germany, which permanently can be operated without human control.

Steaming robot - BG-approved in 2011
Steaming robot – BG-approved in 2011

Hot steam proves effective against neophytes

Samstag, November 13th, 2010

The decontamination of large areas from Japanese knotweed by steaming is further advancing. After the association for sewage treatment Offenburg and the regional board Freiburg have successfully used hot steam to control knotweed in 2009, the regional board Karlsruhe follows their example.

At the beginning of November three large areas close to the city of Sinzheim were steamed by the steaming specialists MSD Corp., Durbach and Mobildampf, Waiblingen.

Although the regional board Freiburg had had the contaminated areas excavated down to 20 cm depth and the material steamed in specially prepared tipping trailers, the regional board Karlsruhe decided to treat 2 of the 3 areas with the classic method of sheet steaming.

Sheet steaming against neophytes at Sinzheim
Sheet steaming against neophytes (Japanese knotweed) at Sinzheim, Germany

For this purpose the soil was loosened down to 30 cm depth before steaming. After that the area was covered with heat resistant sheets, weighted at the edges and steamed for three to four hours. The soil of the third area was excavated down to 20 cm depth, steamed and put back to its original location.

Container-steaming with tipping trailer
Container-steaming with tipping trailer

In case that the positive results in 2009 can be achieved as well, more areas will be treated in the same way.

Poisenous ragwort is still advancing

Sonntag, Juli 18th, 2010

Bad news for vegetable and salad growers: Poisenous ragwort is further spreading throughout Germany. Just within a couple of decades this plant which is mainly original to the southern regions has developed large populations in south-west Germany coming from Belgium.

For this reason ragwort grows into a threat for the organic and conventional, heavily automated horticulture.
Ragwort contains substances which have a harmful effect on liver and nerves. After consumption they might even cause death. If parts of ragwort get into the harvest, as it became public in 2009, growers might face incalculable consequences.

Growers hardly have any options to fight the danger. There is no herbicide which provides 100% protection. Furthermore the leaves of ragwort seedlings look almost exactly like arugula, which makes a later automatic or manual extraction after harvest almost impossible.

The responsible government office of the German federal state Rhineland-Palatinate (DLR Rheinlandpfalz) is presently reassessing existing methods to fight ragwort. Soil steaming is also among them (please see report from May 2010). The results of the investigation will be published shortly.

The control of invasive plants with hot steam enters the final stage

Mittwoch, Mai 26th, 2010

The regional board of Freibug / Germany has finished its research on the control of Japanese knotweed with mere hot steam without chemicals which was started in autumn last year. The last treatment process was conducted to distroy the plant’s rhizomes in deep soil layers.

Already in september 2009 the experiment with hot steam was started. Large areas on the shore of the river Rench which were highly contaminated with Japanese knotweed were excavated down to 20-30 cm depth and steamed completely. The success oft he treatment of more than 95% was already visible at the end of the year 20009 and even more at the beginning of 2010. On the treated area only scattered sprouts appeared as expected.

Counter measures against these sprouts were taken by depth treatment with steam. High pressure lances made by the company MTM-SPINDLER were first driven into the soil down to about 1 m depth. The soil was broken and loosened with induced highly compressed air. Then steaming lances were applied and host steam at 200°C induced for about 15 min.

Already in May 2009 a similar test was made together with a regional government organization in the southwest of Germany to sucessfully kill all surviving germinable root residues after a first superficial treatment of contaminated area.
Hot steam denatures all germinable plant parts in the soil and harms them sufficiently that invading germs weakens the plants to a degree that no offspring can be produced.
Later on the positive results will be further supervised and checked if there is a sustaining positive effect.

Horticulture Service Center tests the effectivity of hot steam against weeds and other pests

Sonntag, Mai 9th, 2010

On the 4th of May 2010 the service center Rheinlandpflaz in Schifferstadt conducted a bigger field test on weed control. A testing area of 2.000 m² was segmented into several parcels on which different methods of weed control were applied and compared.

Ragwort in focus
Growers in the region were particularily challenged by ragwort in 2010. Hence the testing area was in particular contaminated with ragwort.

Besides the application of chemical means also steaming was considered as alternative method.

16 parcels were steamed with steaming hoods. Testing conditions were suboptimal since the soil was wet and overly compacted due to rain on the previous day. Nevertheless steam penetrated the soil well and heated it up to 99°C down to 5 cm depth within 6.5 minutes. The steamed area was covered with a light sheet afterwards. 10 minutes after steaming temperatures of 95°C could be maintained in 5 cm depth. In 10 cm depth 82°C could still be reached.
It is expected that the steamed area was completely freed from weeds.
Hence the culture can be harvested without weeds and ragwort afterwards.