Control of wild herbs with hot steam

The public sector, such as communities, must also deal with solutions to control wild herbs and weeds.

On squares, streets and sidewalks, weeds amass in gaps and free areas and have to be eliminated. Furthermore, challenges arise due to the steady spread of problematic plants such as the invasion of neophytes.

Invasive Neophytes and other problematic plants

In recent decades many non native plants have been introduced to Central Europe.

Many of these plants cause growing problems due to their rapid growth. Some are harmful to health such as Ambrosia, while others endanger biodiversity since they supplant native plant varieties and detriment the natural habitat. Among these is Japanese knotweed (Fallopia Japonica /Reynoutria Japonica) whose powerful growth suppresses other plants and depending on its location may damage agricultural land or building structures such as dams, streets and walls.

Furthermore, native problematic plants are further advancing such as ragwort which is toxic and can lead to liver damage and even fatal poisoning depending on the ingested dosage. The accelerated spread of ragwort can be traced back to growing area of fallow land and climate change.

In particular the public sector is faced with the challenges to address this issue.

Today two methods are applied for weed control: 1. Mechanical means such as brushing, mulching, bunking and mowing 2. Application of herbicides. In particular the usage of chemical means is limited due to its harmful impact on nature and humans.

Hot steam is an adequate alternative.

Steaming systems for weed control in public spaces are available and can universally be applied. In contrast to mechanical methods, which are quick and simple, steaming provides the advantage that not only superficial plant parts are removed. Hot steam penetrates into all gaps and fights the complete plant. It kills all sprouted plant parts and weed seeds making it really worth the effort. The results are completely weed-free areas which only require to be retreated once or twice a year. No chemicals are needed and the treatment is residue-free.

Steaming and other thermal methods.

Besides hot steam there are other thermal methods used for weed control available on the market such as infrared rays, scarfing and hotwater systems. The efficacy of these methods is often insufficient despite their relatively high energy usage. Radiant heaters preserve surfaces but require long residence times until heat has sufficiently damaged the plant in particular reaching parts underground. Scarfing devices have the same problem, since they show little depth effect.

Hotwater systems may overcome these issues. When applied properly, these systems can kill deeper sprouted plant parts at temperatures higher than 65°C for a positive long term effect. However hotwater systems show high energy losses and massive water consumption. Hot steam does not have these disadvantages.

More than „Hot air“

In contrast to hot water at 100°C, hot steam at 100°C contains about 5 times more energy. Furthermore its density is 1000 times lower. Hence when using hot steam, users need less water and can apply more heat to fight weeds: The result are weed-free areas at relatively low energy and labor cost. Furthermore, low pressure steam generators are very easy to handle.

In contrast to methods using extreme heat and high pressure the application of steam has more positive effects: Soil surface is preserved and freed from weeds, moss and linchen. Steaming even cleans deeper soil layers. Persistent dirt such as gum, etc. is loosened and can be removed easily after steaming.

Steaming systems are suitable for small as well as large areas with different surfaces such as sports and playgrounds, sidewalks, parking lots and cemeteries.

Steam can be applied anywhere.

Steam can be applied in many different areas. Communities can use steam generators not only for effective weed control and cleaning of squares and streets. Steaming systems can also be used to treat municipal green areas, beets and compost or zoological gardens. If coordinated and applied properly a steam generator never stands still.

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