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"Weed Cooker" Uses Steam To Kill Weeds
A hot new idea in weed control uses super-heated steam. The Atarus Stinger is under development by Origin Energy of Australia and Delta Liquid Energy, Paso Robles, California. The weed killer uses a propane-fired generator to produce steam in excess of 850 degrees Fahrenheit.
"The Atarus Stinger creates a high velocity stream of super-heated steam which is directed at weeds," says Robert Jacobs, director of marketing, Delta Liquid energy. "It increases the cell wall temperature of the weeds to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, causing them to burst."
Jacobs says using steam works better than the propane-fired weed burners that have been on the market for years. He points out that "flamers" often require a burn permit. They also can melt drip irrigation tubing and run the risk of setting mulch or field debris on fire. One other problem with propane burners is that the flame is essentially invisible, and it is easy to get too close to the plants you want to protect.
"We've used the Stinger in vineyards with grape canes the size of a pencil and with drip tubing on the ground, and it didn't hurt either when we maintained a ground speed of around 3-4 mph," says Jacobs. "And steam actually transfers more heat than fire does."
The heart of the Stinger is the steam generator, a 3 1/2-ft. long pressurized container with 18-in. square ends. Water and propane lines connect to the box, which is equipped with electronic ignition. Copper tubing wrapped around the box preheats the incoming water and cools the outside temperature of the generator unit. The water is injected at 100 cu. lbs. pressure to mix with the hot gas from the burning propane. As it vaporizes, it creates the super-heated steam.
Delta has tested a towable unit for use with ATV's and tractor-towed units, and now is building a 3-pt hitch unit. This vineyard unit will have a steam generator on each side of the row and be designed to shoot steam under the vines. Jacobs is anxious to get it out in the field for testing. He recognizes that different crops, from grapes to strawberries to almonds, will require different designs.
Grape, almond, strawberry, even cotton growers are going organic," says Jacobs. "Farm managers still have to figure how to keep weeds down."
Current plans are to have units in production and available for sale within the next 6 months. The generators alone - without mounting equipment - are available now for those who want to build their own weed cooker.
"A generator costs $4,000 and weighs about 75 lbs.," says Jacobs. "We recommend using two, one for each side of a row. I would estimate a two-row unit using four generators would sell for approximately $25,000."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Jacobs, Delta Liquid Energy, 1960 Ramada Drive, Paso Robles, Calif. 93446 (ph 805 239-0616; fax 805 239-1327; E-mail: robertj@deltaliquidenergy.com)

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2002 - Volume #26, Issue #3