The X-Steaminator succeeded in getting a lot of attention at the Ag In Motion farm show in Saskatchewan this summer. It’s certainly not a new idea, but when the prototype-model is based on a concept of greater efficiency and is built on a much larger scale than has been previously designed, it catches the eye.
Ron Gleim, a third-generation farmer from Chaplin, Saskatchewan, said that he’d grown tired of looking at weed-escapes in his fields. So, he decided to apply some new engineering to an old idea
“After thousands of hours driving around looking at weeds, you kind of think we’ve gotta find a better way to do this, and one day I said we’ve just gotta try hot water or steam,” Gleim said.
The process doesn’t use any chemicals and is designed to work totally on electricity. The X-Steaminator produces steam at up to 200 to 300 degrees Celsius and kills all the cellulose in the leaves, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a dandelion or a Russian thistle, it’s going to die.
Several weed control companies use super-heated steam to kill weeds. Their marketplace is primarily urban-oriented, where chemical applications are often restricted or illegal. The equipment is typically a hand-held wand attached to a boiler system and used for spot applications. Gleim’s does not have a boiler. It uses electric coils to heat the water near instantaneously, and the commercial generator-and-pump-system is designed to be pulled by a field tractor.
“Environmentally, it’s going to be a huge benefit to society, but farmers, themselves, are going to be able to use this. It’s very safe, and it’s very cost-effective,” Gleim said.”It’s going to control weeds that they can’t control now. It’ll save them ten dollars an acre for pre-burn off. If we can desiccate with it, that’s another twenty dollars an acre.”
The prototype on display at Ag In Motion was there to showcase the X-steaminator’s design. Gleim said they would be demonstrating machines that will cover 60 feet or more in a pass, with an operating speed approaching five miles per hour, by next spring. At least that’s what his team engineers are telling him.
“They’re saying this isn’t rocket science, we can do this, and the engineers are developing some better ways so that we can build a sixty-footer, and maybe even a hundred-footer, and probably go around five miles an hour,” he said.
In the next six to eight months, Gleim will have a sixty-foot demo that they will use on some area farms. He added the X-Steaminators would probably not be for sale for a year.