Our Science

Soil steaming:

Uses water and heat – nothing else

Is clean, simple and long-lasting

Provides yield increases of up to 75%

Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t invent the concept of soil steaming. We just refined it.

And soil steaming is the first of our technologies to come to the market.

Fully patented, our soil steaming technology offers an effective, reliable soil treatment that eliminates growers’ reliance on herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or fumigants. 

Healthy soil, without chemicals.

Justifiably, we believe soil steaming is the most exciting thing to happen to soil management in years.

A chemical-free soil treatment process, soil steaming can create healthy, productive soils, season after season. Farmers and growers produce higher yields of healthy, profitable crops, with fewer pests and diseases, and improved storage life.

Why steam?

Steam isn’t new to agriculture. In fact, soil steaming was first proposed more than 100 years ago, as a solution for weed control. Soil steaming practitioners also noticed that it was very effective against fungi and nematodes.

But then came the so-called Green Revolution – the arrival of agrochemicals as a means of increasing agricultural production. Now there was a chemical solution for everything in agriculture and farmers were rapidly persuaded that an armoury of synthetic chemicals gave them a means to control every type of disease and pest. Steam was seen as old-fashioned, cumbersome, and time-consuming – and the popularity of soil steaming waned.

Until the 1990s, that is, when three Norwegian farmers began talking and experimenting. They were concerned about the ongoing use of chemicals. Farmers were becoming reliant on something unsustainable. The three farmers realised that the world needed an alternative to these harsh and often dangerous chemicals, such as methyl bromide, to clean the soil of the weeds, fungi and nematodes that presented a threat to crop yield.

They thought there was a better way to get healthy soil – free from weeds, seeds, fungi and nematodes – without using any chemicals. They looked again at soil steaming.

Their early experiments were primitive. But effective enough to prove that there was a future in using steam – nothing more than water vapour – to control and eliminate harmful organisms from soil.

Not just agriculture

Human activities intentionally and unintentionally introduce new species to parts of the world where they are not native. Arriving in a fresh habitat, without the biological checks and balances provided by its ‘home’ ecosystem, these new species can often become problematic, causing economic or environmental harm, or even a threat to human health.

According to the World Conservation Union, invasive alien species pose the second-greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Plants make up the biggest group of alien species – and it’s here that soil steaming can play a valuable role.

Take the example of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica). Discovered by Victorian plant hunters and introduced to western gardens in the late 19th century, the plant soon became the most notorious alien species throughout Europe and North America. In most jurisdictions, it is now subject to strict controls. For example, in the United Kingdom, soil containing any trace of the plant is regarded as controlled waste requiring special disposal regulated by law.

For construction and civil engineering projects, the discovery of Japanese Knotweed can prove a serious headache, resulting in delays and extra costs.

But soil steaming is effective against invasive alien species such as Japanese Knotweed. Soil infested with knotweed rhizomes or other vegetative material can be successfully treated on-site, removing the need for it to be treated as controlled waste.

The Soil Steam difference

We’re not the only ones to recognise the value of steam in rebuilding the health of our soils, without chemicals.

What’s different about Soil Steam is the way we use steam. And what else we have to offer, besides soil steaming.

Our Steaming Solution

  • a patented soil steaming process
  • a carefully controlled combination of pressure and steam
  • heating the top 20cm of the soil profile
  • to a temperature no higher than 75°C
  • for no longer than 20 minutes
  • using optimal energy input. 

Extensive trials and experimentation have shown consistent results from our unique approach to soil steaming:

  • Elimination of between 96-100% of weeds & seeds
  • Elimination of fungal mycelium and spores
  • Elimination of nematodes
  • No harmful effects on beneficial organisms such as earthworms
  • Rapid recovery of nitrifying microbes, e.g. Rhizobium
  • Physical, rather than chemical mode of action: greatly reduced likelihood of selection for resistance
  • Yield increases post-steaming of between 20-74%
  • Longer storage life in crops such as root vegetables.

Soil steaming is a recognised organic practice – and we believe soil steaming is cost effective in the production of all organic vegetables, fruit and berries, because of the technology’s ability to remove pest and weed pressure from the crop.

Outside organic production, soil steaming allows growers to reduce their reliance on chemical inputs, or to provide additional options for pest and pathogen control where legacy products have been withdrawn, or their approval revoked.

Beyond steam

Soil steaming works. We’ve done the trials and seen the results.

But we’re focused on soil health. We’re enthusiastic about soil health. And we want to bring the benefits of clean soil, without chemicals, to as many potential customers as we can.

So, we’re also realistic about steam. We recognise it’s not for everyone, because despite its clear-cut advantages it won’t be cost-effective for every crop.

That’s why we’re also pursuing and developing novel soil management solutions using alternative technologies. We expect these to have even wider appeal and application, putting sustainable soil management practices into the heart of mainstream agriculture.

See the results for yourself

Demonstrations of our soil steaming technology offer the best way to see this exciting soil management practice in action. During 2022, we intend to increase the number and scope of demonstration sites across Europe and the USA.

Want an invitation to a demonstration near you? Or to participate in one of our planned live events?

Sign up to our mailing list and follow us on social media to stay informed of our plans.

Soil. It’s the most precious asset on our planet. Together, we can protect it.

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