By combining soil steaming with ground-breaking technology, we have created the solution to one of the world's most urgent problems: the lack of topsoil.
Our soil steaming technology offers effective, reliable soil treatment that kills weeds, pests, and diseases.
- Uses water and heat – nothing else.
- Is clean, simple and long-lasting.
- Uses state-of-the-art technology to make soil steaming an attractive alternative to non-sustainable practise.
Why steam and why SoilSteam?
Steam is not a new way of protecting the soil. In fact, soil steaming was first proposed more than 100 years ago, as a solution for weed control. They soon found out that steam was very effective also against fungi, nematodes, and other soil born pathogens.
But in the fifties, the world entered into the so-called Green Revolution – the arrival of agrochemicals which gave increasing agricultural production. Now there was a chemical solution for everything in agriculture and farmers were rapidly persuaded that an army of synthetic chemicals gave them the means to control every type of disease and pest. Steam was seen as old-fashioned, expensive, and time-consuming – and the popularity of soil steaming dropped.
Until the late 1990s, that is, when three Norwegian farmers began talking and experimenting – the founders of Soilsteam. They were concerned about the ongoing use of chemicals. Farmers were becoming reliant on something that was unsustainable. The three farmers realized that the world needed an alternative to these harsh and often dangerous chemicals, such as methyl bromide, to clean the soil for the weeds, pests, and diseases that presented a threat to crop yield and healthy soil.
They thought there was a better way to get healthy soil – free from weeds, pests, and diseases – without using any chemicals. They started to consider soil steaming again.
Their early experiments were primitive. But effective enough to prove that there was a future in using steam – nothing more than water vapor – to kill the weeds and clean the 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, Parkslirekne in Norwegian) 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.
- More than £70 million was spent eradicating knotweed from the 2012 Olympic Park in London
- Herbicides such as glyphosate are rarely totally effective
- Disposal of infested soil is expensive
- Treating this precious material by deep burying it as toxic waste puts it out of use
For construction and civil engineering projects, the discovery of Japanese Knotweed can prove a serious headache, resulting in delays and large extra costs.
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. SoilSteam has also proven efficient elimination of plant parts and seeds from the following list of Invasive Alien Species:
English names: Common wild oat, Barnyard grass, Giant hogweed, Persian hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Stotch laburnum, Common laburnum, Garden lupine, Japanese rosa, Red elderberry, Black nightshade, Canadian goldenrod, Sycamore maple, Lady’s mantle, Dwarf serviceberry
Botanical names: Avena fatua, Echinochloa crus-galli, Heracleum mantegazzianum, Heracleum persicum, Impatiens glandulifera, Laburnum alpinum, Laburnum anagyroides, Lupinus polyphyllus, Rosa rugosa, Sambucus racemosa, Solanum nigrum, Solidago canadensis.
Our Steaming Solution
- a patented soil-steaming process
- a carefully controlled combination of steam and time
- to a temperature that you need to control your problems, not more
- for an as long time as needed
- using the energy in the most efficient way
Extensive trials and experiments have shown consistent results from our unique approach to soil steaming:
- Kills between 96-100% of weeds & seeds
- Kills fungal mycelium and spores
- Kills nematodes
- Re-establishment of healthy soil life
- Physical, rather than a chemical mode of action: greatly reduced likelihood of selection for resistance
- Yield increases post-steaming of 20-330%
- Longer storage life in root vegetables.
Soil steaming is a recognized 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.
Biodiversity and soil health
Soil steaming works. We’ve seen it numerous times and work closely with academia to document the results, see e.g.:
- Soil steaming to combat invasive plant species for soil relocation
- Soil steaming to disinfect infested soil masses
But we’re focused on biodiversity and soil health. We’re enthusiastic about soil health.
We want to bring the benefits of clean soil, without chemicals, to as many potential customers as we can. This is why we have two employees focusing on soil health in close cooperation with academia and researchers world wide. This is also why we are working hard to understand and document the effect of steam both short- and longtime.
SoilSteam and other researchers have shown that biodiversity is returning very quickly to the steamed soil, similar to what is seen in the soil after a forest fire. However, other researchers indicate that it takes time for biodiversity to return, and question the long-term effects on soil life. What we do know, is soil steaming has been done repeatedly for more than 100 years, providing healthy and good growth conditions year after year. A good review of steam impact on biodiversity can be found in this article by Pr. Steven Fennimore at UCDavis.
If we consider precision steaming, a key feature of FieldSaver, potential side effects can be looked at with less concern, as most of the soil is left undisturbed. The soil from SoilSaver will typically be mixed with untreated soil, and natural soil life providing a weed- and pest-free medium for optimum plant health will quickly be established.
So, we’re also realistic about steam. And, we recognize it’s not for everyone despite its clear-cut advantages. We will not advocate steaming of healthy soil.
See the results for yourself
Demonstrations of our soil steaming technology offer the best way to see this exciting soil management practice in action. At the same time as we now produce and sell the SoilSaver machines and continue to develop and finalize the FieldSaver to be ready for the market, we will continue to do more tests and demos in different locations in the EU and USA.
Want an invitation to a demonstration near you? Or to participate in one of our planned live events?
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