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Germany: Soil steaming machines facilitate weed control

The MSD company has developed a new version of the steam mobile unit together with specialist machine manufacturer Josef Zeyer Agrarsysteme in Neresheim. The new edition came about subsequent to a direct inquiry from local producers of salad leaves. In contrast to the previous model, which was produced by MSD in cooperation with the Swiss company Bärtschi-Fobro, this new field robot MSDZ-1 fulfils the latest requirements, in particular in the areas of approach area monitoring and tracking control.

In addition to the latest control technology, the steam efficiency of the system has been increased again by almost 40% on the previous model so that, under optimal conditions, surfaces of much more than 30 hectares can be completely freed of weeds annually.

The first new fully automatic steam machine is currently in test operation in areas in northern Germany in order to adjust it optimally to the current conditions. The machine will then be able to steam three rows of beds simultaneously, completely independently and without a driver, lifting, moving and then lowering the hoods again for this purpose until the end of the row of beds is reached. When the robot has reached the end of the row, it will send a signal indicating that it can now be moved by a driver. During the entire operation, however, the machine can also be operated via remote control.

As a cheaper alternative to the fully automatic steaming machine, which is now in operation as the latest model MSDZ-1 as of July this year, the leading steam specialist MSD has now also developed a semi-automatic machine and has delivered it on 18.08.2016 near Frankfurt.

In contrast to the fully automatic machine, which operates in self-propulsion over the field without a driver, the semi-automatic, with the complete assembly including the appropriate high-performance steam boiler, is drawn over the beds by a towing vehicle. The system operates, however, in a similarly automatic way. In the current version of the machine, three beds can be steamed simultaneously with one hood. The three hoods are lifted and lowered hydraulically.

The semi-automatic steam machine is available from MSD GmbH, Durbach, in two sizes. The smaller version has a steam performance of up to 600kg per hour and can completely free a surface of up to 12m² of weeds in around 5 minutes with a steam depth of 4-7cm. The larger version of the semi-automatic has a steam performance of up to 800kg per hour and can completely disinfect a surface of up to 18m² in the same time and to the same depth.

The semi-automatic steam machine carries all the fuel oil it needs with it in a tank and supplies its own electricity via a hydraulic generator for steering and for the operation of the high-performance burner.

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