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CU Boulder Innovation and Efficiency Awards
Steam Weed Control Wins Grand Prize


David Lawson, Housing and Dining Services Facility Manager for CU Boulder, stated, "We started in a test area and, by hand, we were able to control weeds at about 1,500 square feet per hour. With the [steamer] machine, we are able to nearly double that." Pictured is Jeremy Winer, Managing Director of Weedtechnics and developer of the Satusteam(C) technology using Satusteam(C) weeder in Australia, in The Protected Green and Golden Bell Frog Habitat at Sydney Olympic Park. Photo Credit: Weedtechnics

For the past three years, the University of Colorado Boulder has held its campus wide "Innovation & Efficiency Awards," a program that celebrates faculty members who have implemented a new, efficient way of working.

To be eligible for an award, the submitter must be a permanent, active employee of the University and have a minimum of 3 months of employment. Submissions must be "fully implemented innovations, tools, strategies, or process improvements that support or enhance the performance of any University organizational unit's work processes."

A total of 5 awards are given; the University Controller's Award for Excellence, which has a cash prize of $1,500, and four additional $1,000 prizes to other top submissions. The winner of the grand prize is chosen based on the following criteria: creativity, ingenuity, cost/efficiency savings and revenue generation.

This year, the grand prize award went to "Steam Weed Control" by Darren Willet, David Lawson and Pedro Vazquez Silva. Darren Willet is the Turf Manager for the Housing & Dining Services (HDS) at the college. David Lawson is the HDS Facilities Manager and Pedro Vazquez Silva is the HDS Irrigation Technician.

Back in 2011, CU Boulder made the pledge to completely eliminate herbicide for all turf areas and planter beds on campus. As a result of this proclamation, it became extremely tedious and difficult to eliminate weeds on the 600-acre campus. However, out of this came a genius idea by Darren Willett, who, in 2013, noticed the potential of using steam to control weeds when the steam vaults on campus flooded and overflowed. The flooding caused all the surrounding vegetation to die, giving Darren the idea of using steam to eliminate weeds.

While steam weeding has not been a widespread practice in the United States, the team found a company in Australia who made steam weeders and contacted them. Based in Sydney, Weedtechnics is an environmental conservation organization that manufactures Satusteam(C) weeders for commercial and industrial use. They have distributors in New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

After the owner of Weedtechnics came to Colorado for an in-depth training period, the turf management team began to use the process of applying very hot steam directly to weeds. It was so effective in fact, that the city of Boulder decided it will be using the Satusteam(C) weeding process for the entire city starting in 2018.

About Weedtechnics: Weedtechnics, design, manufacture and distribute a patented applicator heads and SW (Satusteam(C) Weeder) apparatus for weed control in urban and horticultural uses.
*Satusteam(C) is a patented method of producing a mixture of saturated steam and boiling water for weed control.

Addendum: Weedtechnics do not use steam but uses 'Satusteam(C) (saturated steam and boiling water)' because Satusteam(C) is fast, effective, commercially proven application and has long lasting result. Where as 'steam' rises, loses temperature, has poor penetration and weeds return quickly when treated with steam.

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October 15, 2019, 10:34 pm PDT

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