Steam Weeding

EMRC and non-chemical weed control

The EMRC has been investigating alternative weed control methods and non-chemical weed control as part of best practice natural resource and catchment management. In 2015, EMRC held a Working with Weeds Seminar with the Weeds Network about the negative effects of chemicals in Perth. A number of alternative weed control techniques were showcased including a steam weeding machine. The seminar was well attended with over 80 guests representing landcare groups, local governments, state government, environmental contractors and consultants present on the day.

The introduction of steam to Perth's Eastern Region

Following on from the Weeds Seminar, EMRC was successful in receiving a grant from the Department of Parks and Wildlife - Rivers and Estuaries Division to purchase a steam weeding machine and to provide training for people to hire out the machine. EMRC purchased the Steamwand SW700 in July of 2015 and facilitated the training in April 2016 with the help of Jeremy Winer from Weedtechnics. The training sessions were attended by over 30 people from a range of different backgrounds who work with weeds in natural areas or parks and garden areas.

Jeremy gave a comprehensive introduction to alternative weed control including the eight hidden costs of weed control, designing a chemical-free weed control schedule and some techniques to maximise efficiency and reduce time. The training took place at a number of locations across Perth to showcase different situations where the steam weeding machine could be used. These included environmentally sensitive wetland and creekline areas, small bushland reserves, landscaped parks and gardens and verges. The training sites are currently being monitored for the effectiveness of steam control of weeds.

The machine is now available for hire for local governments and community groups to undertake steam trials in their areas. To view the hire agreement and rates, please download the form below.

For further information, please contact environment@emrc.org.au or phone Jaya Vaughan on 9424 2245, or Miroslav Vujaklija on 9424 2264.

Hire Of Plant And Equipment Agreement - Steam Weed Equipment

Steaming to success

In 2016, the EMRC was successful in receiving funding from the Western Australian Government's State Natural Resource Management Program for the ‘Steaming to Success’ project. The Project included an alternative weed management trial and an ‘Innovative Weed Control Seminar and Site Tour’ which showcased alternative weed management techniques and included a walk and talk through demonstration sites.

 

Tour participants viewed the Steamwand SW700 in action, demonstrations of customised hand weeding tools and successes achieved using the solarisation technique.

 

The following people contributed to the success of the Seminar and Site Tour: Jeremy Winer, Director, Weedtechnics; Josh Byrne, Director, Josh Byrne and Associates; Alex Devine, Natural Area Officer, City of Bayswater; Mike Norman, Chairman and Treasurer of Joondalup Community Coast Care Forum; Rod Hughes local landowner and community group members, Phil Cloran and Jennifer Catalano, Blackadder Woodbridge Catchment Group.

 

Alternative Weed Management Trial

The aim of the trial was to determine the effectiveness of Salt and Vinegar, Pine Oil, Pelargonic Acid, Super-saturated Steam, Competitive Planting and Mulch at a site in Mount Helena. Super-saturated Steam was trialled using the EMRC’s Steamwand SW700 machine which was funded by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (now Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions).

 

The effectiveness of each treatment was determined by visual assessment of the weed percentage cover and recorded via photo monitoring. Six applications were applied to the treatment plots over a 12 month period. Data collected and effectiveness of each treatment is specific to the environmental conditions at the Mount Helena site.

Key learnings from the trial include;

 

  • The process, resources and expected outcomes (both negative and positive) of alternative weed management techniques may differ from traditional methods.
  • Mulch was shown to be very effective at managing weeds and required minimal resources to implement this method.
  • Competitive planting in conjunction with mulch and follow-up treatment is effective at managing weeds and has the added benefits of improved aesthetics and enhanced habitat values.
  • Super-saturated Steam is effective at managing most weeds with the exception of mature weeds or weeds with large underground energy storage systems.
  • Pelargonic Acid was shown to be effective on some weeds provided the appropriate spray regime is carried out.
  • Pine Oil has the ability to manage some weeds however, the product trialled presented challenges in a number of areas such as application and odour.
  • Salt and Vinegar is effective at managing weeds providing all parts of the plant are covered with the solution and follow-up applications are completed.

 

Overall the trial has successfully shown the effectiveness of a number of alternative weed management treatments, both alone and in combination with other treatments. The report can be used as a guide by weed managers for future trials of non-traditional weed management methods.

 

It should be noted that some of the products and technology trialled at the time of the study have since been modified to improve performance. It is expected that the effectiveness of the treatments has also improved.

 

Download the Alternative Weed Management Trail Report here.

Download the low resolution photo monitoring images here.

If you would like to view the high resolution version of the photo monitoring, please contact EMRC for a Dropbox link.

 

For more information please contact environment@emrc.org.au or Jaya Vaughan on 9424 2245 or Miroslav Vujaklija on 9424 2264.