We’ll answer
all of your questions

Below we have listed frequently asked questions and answers. Feel free to contact us if your answer isn’t answered here!

Yes. Steam is 100% pure water. No chemicals are used to kill the weeds, seeds and pathogens.

Soil steaming is energy intensive. Heating the soil from 10-30ºC up to 75-95ºC demands a high amount of energy, and we’re therefore working hard to reduce the energy requirement. Our FieldSaver machine is designed for precision steaming, meaning we only steam the areas where the crops grow. Not between the plants or between the rows. This can decrease the energy needs by up to 80%! Our SoilSaver machine is designed for energy efficiency, almost all of the energy in the steam is used to heat the soil. In cooperation with research institutes, we are also conducting detailed studies of the required temperature and time we need to get the results we want. There is no reason to overheat the soil, nor from an energy or soil health point of view.

Our current machines can use diesel, propane, electricity and most oil or gas energy sources. We want to reduce CO2 emissions, so we’ve started a project to investigate the potential for hydrogen as a future energy source. Despite using fossil fuel, we have calculated that in many cases, produce grown using soil steaming offers a smaller CO2 footprint than conventional produce, thanks to the benefits of increased yield, longer storage life, and reduced import. For our SoilSaver machines, we typically reduce soil transport to a minimum. Much of the soil we can treat is today transported by trucks to landfills. There is no need to do that anymore. Place our SoilSaver on the constriction site and treat the soil where it is.

The soil steaming process raises the temperature of the soil to 75-95ºC. But within 24-48 hours, the soil temperature returns to normal and field operations can continue.

This will depend on how deep the soil is treated and if all or just part of the soil is steamed. It also depends on how the soil is plowed or worked after steaming. Immediately after steaming, most weeds and pests are efficiently eliminated. For deep broad steaming, i.e. treating all soil in the field, the positive effects of steaming is seen to last several years. For spot steaming, steam treatment is needed when the soil is re-mixed due to bed-shaping or other soil operations.

No. Fumigation relies on harsh and potentially hazardous chemicals. The only chemical used in soil steaming is water. What’s more, soil is usable within 24 hours of steaming, compared to at least a week with fumigation.

Weeds, insects, and diseases quickly develop resistance to modern plant protection products, throwing control programs into jeopardy. But because steaming is a physical process, rather than a chemical, it’s much less likely that an organism will develop heat resistance. Based on our knowledge and experience, no resistance to steam treatment has so far been reported.

Reduction of seeds and weeds, up to 100% depending on type and treatment process. Reduction of pests such as fungi, nematodes and harmful bacteria. Steam is particularly efficient against soil born organisms, often eliminating 100% of problematic soil life. Higher yield, 20-70% often reported, up to 330% seen in our trials. Because steaming eliminates fungal spores and nematodes, root vegetables enjoy a longer storage life, reducing post-harvest waste and increasing yield.

Many farming operations involve machinery that is potentially hazardous. But good farming practice demands properly trained operators and appropriate risk management. Soil steaming is no different and our machines incorporate appropriate safety features as standard, including software that monitors and control the process. Our steam generators operates on low-pressure, reducing risk of serious accidents.

We are based in Norway and perform several tests and demos here every year. We’re conducting demonstrations and trials of the technology in Europe and the US. Follow our blog and our social media feeds to see when we’re coming to a field near you!

Steam is a very effective sterilizer. That’s why it’s used in hospitals and other places where utmost cleanliness is essential. For our SoilSaver, we raise the temperature to a high level over a specified time period to eliminate weeds, seeds and soil born organisms. We call this soil sterilization. This will kill most of the living organisms in the soil and reset the soil, similar to what is seen after a forest fire. Natural soil life will re-appear relatively quickly, but it can also be introduced faster by mixing the steamed soil with non-steamed soil. For our FieldSaver machines, we don’t want to completely sterilize the soil. We’re looking for a lower level of cleanliness – pasteurization, the same process used to preserve milk. By carefully controlling the maximum soil temperature at different depths, we can eliminate harmful pathogens, nematodes, weeds, and seeds, while trying to preserve as much as possible of the beneficial soil organisms. We spend significant resources on understanding soil life and how this is impacted by the steaming process at different temperatures.

Chemicals may negatively impact bees and other insects during application, long time after application and even in the outskirts of the fields where insects are pollinating. Chemicals may also be transported to rivers and lead to death of fish and life in the water. With steam, non of this! Pure water is the only thing remaining in the soil, strengthening growth and becomming attractive nectar sources for bees and insects.

We believe not with the FieldSaver. We have conducted field trials particularly to look at earthworms, and concluded that the slow process of steaming, combined with the large equipment involved, generated soil vibrations that effectively ‘warned’ the earthworms to move deeper into the soil. When soil temperatures were back to normal, the earthworms returned. With the SoilSaver we are also killing the worms. When we know that the alternative for this soil is to be sent to a landfill, we consider that the killing of the earthworms is a price we have to pay in order to be able to reuse the soil.

Every agricultural operation that involves soil has the potential to cause damage. Soil steaming is no different, so it’s important to use it responsibly. We suggest that soil steaming is conducted no more than necessary and use equipment that can maintain a controlled soil temperature.

Most vegetables, fruit, and berries show increased harvest after soil steaming. The more serious problems the soil has the better performance you will see from the soil steaming.

Yes – the steaming process kills both weed seed and weed roots. Some weeds require higher temperature/time than others, and it typically takes higher temperature/time to kill weeds compared to soil born organisms. It is therefore very important to analyze the soil before steaming and adapt the steam temperature profile to the problems at hand.

The big challenge related to weeds is the soil seed bank, rather than airborne seeds. Over many years, soil tillage distributes dormant weed seeds throughout the soil profile. Traditionally, the only way to control these has been after germination, using chemical and/or cultural controls. Soil steaming eliminates at least 96% of this seed bank, along with fungi, nematodes, and other soil-borne pathogens. While airborne seeds that arrive after steaming won’t be controlled, the elimination of the seed bank resolves – at a stroke – most of a farmer’s weed burden.

We’re still looking at this. Because there are no weeds on steamed soil, there is less competition for nutrients, and we think it might allow reduced applications. On the other hand, increased yield means more fertilizers may be needed. We’re aware of some published research that suggests the demand for nitrogen increases following soil steaming. This is an area where more research is needed, and SoilSteam is actively supporting this research.

As with any agricultural operation involving soil, the best time is (a) when the soil is workable without risk of damage, and (b) there’s no growing crop. Thus before planting or after harvesting is the most suitable time, particularly if the soil is warm and dry – these are good conditions for steaming.

Yes, but only down to 10 cm depth with the current regulations. Precision steaming is particularly suited for organic schemes, as this impact soil life only in limited areas.

Our machines are sold or leased. The price is related to the capacity of the equipment. Contact us for more information.

As with other large machinery, the user needs to do simple daily maintenance tasks. These are easy to complete. More advanced maintenance is handled by SoilSteam personnel after a given timeline.

The SoilSaver™ machines are available for sale. The demand is currently high compared to our existing capacity. Please reach out to us to get more information about availability and delivery time. Our FieldSaver™ machines are still in test and not yet available for purchase.

We need water in order to make the steam. Our largest machines need 2000 liters of water per hour, while our smaller machines consumes 250 liters per hour. A large portion of the water remains as humidity in the soil, pending soil type, soil surface, and environmental conditions.