March 14th, 2017
At the beginning of March the new substrate steaming technology was tested at a flower farm located near the German-Dutch border. A special challenge of this task was to avoid shifting of very light pumice-like clay substrate in special trays for planting flowers. Moreover, irrigation hoses installed on the bottoms of the planting trays shall not directly be exposed to temperatures exceeding 110°C.
Laying the steam hose and covering with a steaming sheet.
This solution was developed and put into a trial operation by a service team of Marten Barel Consultancy B.V., a well-known consulting company for hot steam applications.
The flower farm, which has successfully tested the new technology, specializes in high quality crops, especially amaryllis.
After the culture is harvested and all plants are pulled out from the substrate, a special steam hose is laid on the substrate along the longitudinal axis of the plant tray. The steam hose is extremely steam-permeable and, thereby, uniformly gives off the stream along the entire plant tray. The plant tray and the hose laid in the middle of it are covered with a heat-resistant steam foil whose edges are weighted with appropriate weighting hoses.
Laying the steam hose and covering with a steaming sheet.
As soon as the steam boiler is connected and started, the substrate starts to be gently steamed. Since the steam is slowly guided through the clay substrate and condensed in it, the irrigation hoses installed at the bottom of the plant tray are not exposed to excessive heat. The steaming time is very short. In already 30 minutes you can sanitise a plant tray of up to 50m length when only using ~30-40kg steam per cubic metre. As the substrate shall not be moved or shifted, additional labour cost is minimal.
February 20th, 2017
On the 15th of February 2017 a large seed breeding business focused on oilseed rape crops put the new semi-automatic steaming machine from MSD GmbH into operation.
The complete tractor-towed system has a steaming capacity of 800kg per hour. A special feature of its design is a large boom hood of more than 7 m length and a total area of approx. 18 sq. m. The system allows treatment of 180 – 200 sq. m soil surface per hour.
Semi-automatic steaming machine MSDA-800 towed by a tractor
With this steaming system, propagation areas can be kept clean, in particular from the seeds of previous breeding strains, without using chemicals. In this way, several hectares will be annually prepared for breeding of new seed varieties.
Semi-automatic steaming machine with a 7m long boom steaming hood
The system was directly commissioned by its manufacturer MSD GmbH in a day. From the very first day, the system was effectively operated. Its design is largely autonomous. In arranged tanks, fuel oil level supply is enough for a full day of operation. The water is continuously supplied through a hose pipe. During the operation, the minimum water pressure is maintained by an installed pump system. The semi-automatic machine also has its own water treatment unit to ensure optimal water hardness.
February 3rd, 2017
A leading herb farm near Cambridge ordered a sandwich-type steam system from MSD GmbH and started it at the beginning of February. The system is equipped with a large steam boiler of type S 1350. So more than 42 sq. m are covered with up to four steam hoods. All steam hoods are equipped with special hollow pins that make it possible to reach a steaming depth of up to 25 cm below the steam hoods in max. 8 minutes.
Spiked steaming hoods in a tunnel
The steam hoods are raised and lowered by a hydraulic system. A special winch pulls the raised steaming hoods over the surface. Using this system, the farm can sanitise280 sq. m per hour and completely liberate the treated surface it from weeds, weed seeds, pests, soil diseases and fatigue.
Hollow pins under the steam hood with a length of up to 20cm
In sandwich-type steaming, soil preparation is still a key factor of success for good steaming results. The surface must not be too moist. It shall be well loosened to the desired depth of steaming effect, at least.
For more information on sandwich-type steaming, please visit:
October 11th, 2016
Yet another German horticultural business has recently made the switch from sheet steaming to sandwich-type steaming using a steaming hood, and the results are impressive.
The business – which is based near Stuttgart in the Federal state of Baden-Württemberg – had been operating successfully for more than 10 years using sheet steaming, and wanted to take a step forwards towards greater energy efficiency.
Raised steaming hood with pikes for sandwich-type steaming
Under the guidance of MSD GmbH the business took the step and, instead of procuring a new sheet, it opted for two steaming hoods used in sandwich-type steaming. Instead of guiding the steam under a sheet which is weighted at the edges, the sandwich-type steaming method utilises a special steaming hood equipped with spikes, which drive the steam into the soil to a depth of up to 25cm. The business made the decision to initially operate the hood manually. This involves a single operator lifting and lowering the hood using a lever construction, and moving it while positioned on wide rollers.
Manually moveable steaming hood with masking foil
The result was worth it. The savings generated in comparison to sheet steaming were close to 50%. Instead of almost 6,000kg of steam, the horticultural business only requires just over 3,000kg of steam per greenhouse with a surface area of 260m² and a steaming depth of approx. 25cm, for a target temperature of more than 80°C. This equates to a very cost-effective steam requirement of approx. 12 kg per m². Consequently, energy costs when measured in today’s price for heating oil are below EUR 0.5 per m².
August 19th, 2016
As a cheaper alternative to the fully automatic steaming machine, which is now in operation as the latest model MSDZ-1 as of July this year, the leading steam specialist MSD has now also developed a semi-automatic machine and has delivered it on 18.08.2016 near Frankfurt.
Semi-automatic steaming machine MSDA 600 from MSD GmbH, Durbach
In contrast to the fully automatic machine, which operates in self-propulsion over the field without a driver, the semi-automatic, with the complete assembly including the appropriate high-performance steam boiler, is drawn over the beds by a towing vehicle. The system operates, however, in a similarly automatic way. In the current version of the machine, three beds can be steamed simultaneously with one hood. The three hoods are lifted and lowered hydraulically.
Semi-automatic steaming machine with 12m² steaming hoods
A video on Youtube can be watched here: VIDEO semi-automatic steam robot, 2016
The semi-automatic steam machine is available from MSD GmbH, Durbach, in two sizes. The smaller version has a steam performance of up to 600kg per hour and can completely free a surface of up to 12m² of weeds in around 5 minutes with a steam depth of 4-7cm. The larger version of the semi-automatic has a steam performance of up to 800kg per hour and can completely disinfect a surface of up to 18m² in the same time and to the same depth.
The semi-automatic steam machine carries all the fuel oil it needs with it in a tank and supplies its own electricity via a hydraulic generator for steering and for the operation of the high-performance burner. Further information can be obtained directly from the MSD company: www.moeschle.de
July 21st, 2016
The MSD company has developed a new version of the steam mobile unit together with specialist machine manufacturer Josef Zeyer Agrarsysteme in Neresheim. The new edition came about subsequent to a direct enquiry from one our largest local producers of salad leaves. This new fully automatic steam machine sets new standards. In contrast to the previous model, which was produced by MSD in cooperation with the Swiss company Bärtschi-Fobro, this new field robot MSDZ-1 fulfils the latest requirements, in particular in the areas of approach area monitoring and tracking control.
Fully automatic steam machine MSDZ-1, developed by the MSD company in cooperation with the J. Zeyer company in Neresheim
In addition to the latest control technology, the steam efficiency of the system has been increased again by almost 40% on the previous model so that, under optimal conditions, surfaces of much more than 30 hectares can be completely freed of weeds annually.
Fully automatic steam machine in test operation for open land application in northern Germany
The first new fully automatic steam machine is currently in test operation in areas in northern Germany in order to adjust it optimally to the current conditions. The machine will then be able to steam three rows of beds simultaneously, completely independently and without a driver, lifting, moving and then lowering the hoods again for this purpose until the end of the row of beds is reached. When the robot has reached the end of the row, it will send a signal indicating that it can now be moved by a driver. During the entire operation, however, the machine can also be operated via remote control.
Detailed information on price and performance of the new fully automatic steam machine can be obtained directly from the MSD company, especially online at www.moeschle.de.
A video on Youtube can be watched here: VIDEO fully-automatic steam robot, 2016
June 21st, 2016
On 17.06.2016, the research group Extension Gemüsebau of the Swiss Agroscope Institut presented several methods for combatting tiger nut sedge. One of the most effective methods among these is steaming.
Three different steaming methods were successfully tested: hood steaming, sheet steaming and pile steaming via steam conveyor in cooperation with several partners, including MSD GmbH, Durbach.
Little steaming hood set on open field
In the two surface steaming processes (hood and sheet), the tiger nuts are completely killed off to a depth of around 25cm, which translates as an effective rate of around 95% over the entire area. After steaming, the steam-treated surface areas were observed. Growth from deeper lying tiger nuts, which the steam was not able to reach, can subsequently be killed off easily by mechanical or chemical means. In the case of pile steaming, e.g. via steam conveyor, the soil that is contaminated with tiger nuts is lifted completely and treated with steam.
Tiger nut sedge can be killed off completely with a soil temperature of 75°C. It is recommended that heat is maintained for at least 15 minutes in order to achieve a clean result.
Sheet steaming against neophytes at Sinzheim
More information can be found in the “Mit Dampf erste Befallstellen tilgen” (eradicate first infestations with steam) leaflet on www.agroscope.ch from July 2017.
June 2nd, 2016
Steaming tests for strawberry cultivation were held on 1.06.2016 and included a tour of inspection, offering consultancy from Karlsruhe district experts on horticulture, fruit and wine cultivation and providing results of tests carried out using soil steaming, outdoors and in tunnels. The event took place at the Böser strawberry and asparagus farm in Forst, Baden.
Steaming tests for strawberries near Karlsruhe
Steaming was carried out in summer 2015 by Mr. Steffen Koch from the company Mobildampf. The expert consultant from the Karlsruhe district, Mr. Arno Fried, carried out a steaming demonstration resulting in improvements of up to 500%.
Diagram showing results of steam treatment in strawberry cultivation
Steam treatment is the ideal sanitation method for contaminated soils or grounds with a relatively high level of soil fatigue. You can obtain more details directly from Mr. Arno Fried: Contact
May 31st, 2016
Replacing methyl bromide is one of the most urgent challenges facing California too, in particular for strawberry growers. MSD GmbH’s international representative in the United States, Dutch firm Marten Barel Consultancy BV, started operations at the end of May with a large-scale facility in California using a MSD Steam Boiler, model S 2000.
24m² - spike steam hood behind towing vehicle with a hydraulic undercarriage on rollers
The energy-saving sandwich-type steam procedure is used for strawberry cultivation. Two 24m² sized spike steam hoods on a hydraulic undercarriage on rollers are alternately moved on one tracked vehicle respectively. 17 cm long spikes mounted under the hood heat the ground to over 80° C to a depth of 25 cm. As the soil is sandy, steaming time is around 7 minutes.
MSD steam boiler S 2000 incl. heating oil supply, mounted on a special trailer
The steam system put into operation with two spike hoods and the MSD Steam Boiler S 2000 currently has a daily capacity for total sterilisation of approx. 2,500 m² ground for strawberry cultivation, freeing the soil of weeds, diseases and soil fatigue. In a second phase beginning in 2017, the 1,500 hectare-sized horticultural business in California plans to invest in another steaming system capable of steaming more than 1 ha cultivated area per day.
May 19th, 2016
Persistent soil fatigue has forced the Chinese tobacco growing company in Yunnan province to explore new possibilities. Chemicals cannot be used for cultivation soil treatment since the seedlings are extremely sensitive.
The Chinese representative of the steam specialist MSD GmbH, Beijing Zhongjinguoyi Sciences Development Co. Ltd., has decided to acquire soil sterilisation methods using hot steam that are new to China. In mid-May 2016, steaming experts from Germany participated in the start-up of the first steaming equipment for sterilising substrates in Yunnan.
Start-up of a steam boiler model MS 100 for substrate steaming
As soon as steaming has established itself in operational procedures, further steaming equipment from Germany will be used, with the capacity to prepare hundreds of cubic metres of soil per day with hot steam, also over a cultivation area, for tobacco and ginseng farming.