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Wetlands Centre settles for sustainability by seeing weeds off with just hot water!

WWT Martin Mere Wetlands Centre has become the first reserve in the country to buy and use an environmentally friendly and sustainable method of weed control – using nothing but hot water!

The innovative Cardley Wave system uses no chemicals but instead sprays hot water on to weeds and mosses to kill them organically. Reserve manager, Tom Clare, said: “I am absolutely delighted that WWT are leading the way in controlling invasive species through this method. The hot water system can be applied accurately and the heat penetrates the root of the weed, killing it in a way that has no negative impact on our water, environment, staff or wildlife.”

Cardley Wave 100% hot water weed control systems are widely used across Europe and are considered a market leader but WWT Martin Mere has been the first nature reserve in England to purchase and benefit from this sustainable solution.

Aberdeen City Council was the first UK local authority to purchase a machine outright after trial hiring the unit for just one month and now many more councils, contractors and utility companies have followed their lead.

A major advantage of the Cardley-Wave system is the unique multi-purpose design which enables a range of different hot water applications at varying pressures from the same machine to keep areas clean from weeds, as well as, chewing gum and most graffiti.

Tom continues: “At Martin Mere we have to control invasive species such as crassula and rosebay willowherb as well as nettles, moss and creeping thistle. As a result of human activities and changes in climatic regimes, species are being introduced to and colonising new areas around the world more rapidly than ever before. These species are termed ‘Invasive Non-Native Species’, and wetlands are particularly severely affected. This new equipment will ensure we can control these with no ill-effects to the environment.”

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in general had been searching for a viable alternative to conventional chemical weed controls for some time, WWT Martin Mere had trialled a hot foam machine on several occasions previously with limited success before coming across Cardley-Wave.

The Cardley-Wave Mid-Series 22/8 controls the pressure and temperature of the hot water weed control application, to deliver maximum thermal heat penetration to the weed and root at 98C. Manoeuvrability and access is aided by the compact design of the unit, which can be transported from site to site on the back of a small pick-up truck, or towed by an ATV and trailer, which also carries a large water tank. WWT Martin Mere opted for a 45metre length reel hose to maximise access in difficult to reach areas around the reserve.

An additional advantage to Tom and his team is the fact that a suction pump attachment allows quick and easy replenishment to the water tank from surrounding water sources when required. The pump facility can also be used in and around the Wetlands Centre to help fight flooding, capable of filling a 500l tank within two minutes, to add further long-term value and versatility to the original investment.

As well as this, the organisation opted for the drain jetting attachment which transforms the Mid Series 22/8 into a competent drain jetter operating at 725PSI to quickly clear clogged up drains without relying on other equipment or outsourced services to keep down costs.

Josh Sweeney, group marketing manager at Cardley-Wave “I attended the first and only demonstration of our system at Martin Mere, the last time I was there was on a school trip, so it is really pleasing to see the operation embrace an environmentally friendly alternative to weed control which goes to show the unit’s overall effectiveness. The fact the guys have also maximised utilisation with additional attachments such as the water pump and drain jetter into addition to gum and general high pressure cleaning means downtime should be more or less eliminated.”

The water heater can be set to deliver either hot water or steam via a hose that can be fitted with a range of attachments to suit the task at hand. Weeds can be soaked up to three times over a period of time to totally kill the toughest varieties but smaller weeds can be seen wilting after just one treatment.

The method is in line with a European Union directive which states that countries must keep herbicide and pesticides usage to levels which ‘reduce or minimise the risks to human health or the environment’.

MEPs recently urged the EU to ban “use in or close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens” as well as outright for domestic use noting “concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, used in many farm and garden applications.”

As things stand, a EU decision is required by the end of June or glyphosate, one of the most common components in popular weed killers, will in effect lose its approval.

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