Busting the Steam Weeding Myth: Satusteam™ - A Friend to Soil Life - Weedtechnics

Busting the Steam Weeding Myth: Satusteam™ – A Friend to Soil Life

Jeremy Winer

Fellow environmental enthusiasts and horticultural aficionados! Today, we’re going to dive deep into the fascinating world of weed control and its impact on our precious soil life. There’s a lingering myth that steam weed control, including Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding, can harm soil life. But we’re here to set the record straight and show you why the innovative method of Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding is a friend, not a foe, to your soil ecosystem.

The Biological Perspective

Biological and regenerative farming practitioners understand the value of pioneer species in ecosystem management. Pioneer plants help stabilise soil, conserve water, and generate organic matter, making them an essential part of any sustainable horticultural system. Interestingly, these pioneer, opportunistic plants are often considered ‘weeds’ by many. They are a plant in the wrong place.  I take the view that a plant becomes a weed when it competes with desired plants for space, nutrients, and water, or damages assets, creates a hazard, reduces indigenous biodiversity or is a threat to health. But these plants can also play a vital role in enhancing soil health and diversity. Therefore, how we manage them either allows us to benefit from the harvested nutrients and organic matter to build soil health or, if we laden them with toxins, diminish soil life and enter a degenerative spiral, turning good soil to impoverished dirt.

The Global Trend Towards Alternative Weed Control

There’s a growing trend worldwide among horticulturalists, farmers, city decision-makers and regulators to reduce chemical usage for weed control. Regenerative, biological, organic, bio-dynamic, chem-free movements are all growing in popularity and have become mainstream.  This trend has fuelled investment over the last 10 years into the development of innovative, thermal, mechanical, and ‘organic’ weed control technologies, which are more efficient and eco-friendly than the earlier predecessors. These technologies aim to minimise environmental risks, reduce toxic residues, and promote healthier soil conditions.

Understanding the Science of Saturated Steam Weeding 

Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding is a thermal weed control technology that pressurises high-temperature water, superheated to about 120C, which is then depressurised into a low pressure mixture of saturated steam and boiling water in a weed killing applicator head to destroy weeds.

Thermal weed control can be categorised into ‘hot wet’ and ‘hot dry’ approaches, with ‘hot wet’ being superior due to its ability to transfer heat more effectively into the plant’s cell structure and gain some penetration into the crown of the plant. This deeper penetration into the growth point of the plant, where the roots meet the shoots just below ground, causes the plant thermal shock.  It is effective on all soft leaved and stemmed vegetation.  Because the above ground leaves and stems of the vegetation are destroyed, if the plant still has life below the ground, it must use the stored energy in ist root system to repair and grow new leaves before it can start to photosynthesise and regrow the roots.

  So when Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding is applied again, before the weed has had a chance to fully re-establish,  the target plant has a further depleted chance of regenerating.  It’s important to note here that in our usual ‘steam’ weeding applications, the temperature rise 3 cm below the surface is only 30-40C. Read here Why Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding and not Your Regular Steam Weeding Machine?

The Research Speaks: Soil Health and Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding

Recent research and reviews have highlighted the efficacy of Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding in weed control without harming soil health. In a study titled ‘Technology for Controlling Weeds’ conducted by Hort Innovation, Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding received a remarkable score of 5 out of 5 for both Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) in the non-selective fallow paddocks category. This rating reflects the technology’s impact on the soil in terms of toxic residues, nutrients, soil biology, reduced chemical use, and its positive effect on the soil environment.

Putting the Hypothesis to the Test

Trials were conducted to assess the effect of superheated steam on soil biota activity. The hypothesis that steam would decrease soil biota activity was put to the test. Multiple samples were collected and analysed to understand the impact of steam on soil life over time.

The Steam Weeding Application On Soil Results Are In

Surprisingly, the results contradicted the initial hypothesis. The trials showed that soil microbial activity increased after treatment with steam. In some cases, this increase was substantial. While it’s true that steam may cause some initial changes to soil microbe populations, such as an increase in thermophiles (heat loving microbes) the mesophile microbes(preferring temps of 20-45C)  seem to recover quickly, responding positively to the addition of water from the Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding and the cooked vegetative matter as a food source.

Steam weeding and Soil Life: A Symbiotic Relationship

The research outcomes clearly demonstrate that Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding is not the enemy of soil life; rather, it can be considered a friend. When steam is applied to control weeds, it can create an environment where soil microbes rebound and thrive. By promoting a healthy soil ecosystem, Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding indirectly benefits your horticultural crops.  The bound up nutrients are released through the microbes that turn the cooked vegetation into soil organic matter.  You don’t see this happen with glyphosate sprayed vegetation as glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic and the breakdown process is therefore very slow.

Steam Weeding Misinformation of Contrary Findings

There has only been one recent study brought to my attention that resulted in steam causing a longer term change in soil fungal and bacterial populations.  The study *  by Deakin University and funded by Municipal Association of Victoria was extensively flawed**.  They did not disclose the make or model, which is one of the flaws that prevents the study from being duplicated. What is most striking from the published results is that  an application rate of 11-22 minutes per square meter was steamed using their steam weeder. 

Our  Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding is applied at 15-30 SECONDS per square meter.  My sympathy for those poor operators who had to stand over and steam a square meter of ground for up to 22 minutes. It brings flashbacks of my first #Steamwand in 1997 that worked, but was never commercially viable. 11-22 minutes per square meter is not a commercially viable rate of application and has no place in the real world. Such a slow application and the subsequent saturation of the soil profile with boiling water or “steam”, would of course cook the soil biome.   That’s not what we are trying to do with weed management.


Seeing is Believing: Witness  Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding in Action


See for yourself Satusteam efficacy on this video. See how  Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding obliterates weeds while nurturing your soil. Experience the transformation firsthand, and you’ll understand why Weedtechnics has become the preferred weed control solution for our customers.

Closing Thoughts

In the world of horticulture, it’s crucial to embrace sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding, our unique thermal weed control technology, exemplifies our commitment to finding innovative solutions that are both effective and eco-friendly. The myth that steam weed control, particularly Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding, destroys soil life has been debunked.

We hope this information has shed light on the positive impact of Satusteam™ or Saturated Steam Weeding on soil health. It’s time to embrace this technology with confidence, knowing that it not only keeps your weeds in check but also nurtures your soil life, providing a healthier environment for your horticultural endeavours.

At Weedtechnics we exist to innovate and develop technology for safe weed control that replaces toxins, minimises harm to our ecosystem, and allows you to breathe easy and walk barefoot in a regenerating world.

If any of this resonates with your situation, we team of Satusteam experts who will be pleased to have a conversation with you.

About the Author : Jeremy Winer

Jeremy Winer has 30 years of practical experience in implementing integrated holistic approach to organic weed management across urban landscapes, recreational parklands and wetlands. He currently runs Weedtechnics specialising in providing chemical reduction and non-toxic weed control programs to municipalities across Australia. He has developed, patented, manufactured, and commercialised the Steamwand method of creating saturated steam for vegetation control.