Eddie Boy Woerner's steam pasteurization of soil is revolutionizing organic farming.By John Mullen

February 7, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – The infectious laughter of Eddie Boy Woerner filled the upstairs dining room and bar at Flipper’s Seafood and Oyster Bar to the rafters.

Eddie Boy was talking about one his favorite topics: How a farm boy from Elberta is changing the world of organic farming by treating soil with steam.

“I’ve invented a process that’s going to change agriculture forever,” Eddie Boy told a visiting group who requested an audience with the farming innovator. “Until I die, I’m going to be the Coca Cola of soil pasteurization.”

Eddie Boy Woerner's soil pasteurizing steam machine.It was Eddie Boy who first brought in the perfect turf for Super Bowls and even stadiums in China. Before it was over, he also left the young listeners with a life lesson. The group was from Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio. The Sports Management majors were visiting for the third straight year bringing mostly seniors but some juniors to hear from Eddie Boy.

In 2007, he pretty much saved the day in Super Bowl XLI in Miami. The first contractor’s turf wasn’t holding up to the South Florida rain and Eddie Boy was called in days before the game in an urgent situation. Despite rain the entire game his grass was up to the task and there was no footing or mudhole issues.

“I developed technology for the Super Bowl to roll natural grass in, paint it, play the game, roll it back up and take it out,” Eddie Boy said. In China he was summoned by a group gathered by the president to bring great turf to the country’s Bird’s Nest stadium.

But on this day, he was regaling the rapt group on his development of a steam machine to clean the soil, rid it of weeds and pests in a total organic process. Along the way he invented another machine that will help marijuana farmers as well.

Eddie Boy Woerner at the Bird's Nest Stadium in China.His prototype machine – a big one – is being used in strawberry fields in California right now in a project by UC-Davis.

“I had already invented this process, pasteurized soil, to pump steam in and mix in into the soil,” he said. “I had gotten a patent on it and got it built. I called the strawberry growers out in California and say I’m ready to come to California. Next thing I know I get a call from UC-Davis. We understand you got something to pasteurize soil in strawberry production. Can we fly out and see it?”

UC-Davis researchers had built three machines in an attempt to bring steam to bare on the strawberry farms but couldn’t get the steam to penetrate deep enough or hold the temperature long enough to be effective.

“They got four to five to six inches at the most,” Eddie Boy said. “They didn’t get the temperature up and it wouldn’t hold for 20 minutes. They said look, for the strawberry growers we’ve got to go to 14 inches and we’ve got to hold for 20 minutes.

“So, a farm boy from Alabama gets out there with a machine with no engineering or whatever. So, I create the machine that can go 14 inches deep, pump 12 million btus of steam into it an hour. When I went from five inches to 14 inches that mass held for one hour. UC-Davis had never seen 14 inches and never seen one hour.”

Eddie Boy has bought all three machines and is refitting them to make ‘em work better.

“The machines that were out there, they parked ‘em,” he said. “I’m buying those machines because the steam part’s good, the propane generator’s good, the trailer’s good. What’s not good is their equipment to incorporate steam into the ground. That’s where I come in.”

But the road to the steaming of soil started way before even that, he said.

“In the 70s when I graduated from high school, we were organic,” Eddie Boy said. “We pulled weeds by hand, we didn’t have chemicals. And we killed the bugs with two bricks and grew enough. If we needed 20 acres we’d grow 30. The 10 acres would go to the worms, the deer and the wildlife. So, we were organic.”

In the 1980s big chemical companies developed chemicals to do the weeding and control pests. A backlash to the chemicals developed, Eddie Boy says, when California moms wanted to limit chemicals around their children.

“These young women got together, went to the city officials in California in three counties and said we need you to draw circles around schools and daycares, quarter mile circles,” Eddie Boy said. “And we want you to outlaw chemicals period. They drew the circles and passed the law. Out of the strawberry industry, when they drew them circles it encompassed 25 percent of the entire strawberry production. That’s a $4 billion industry and $1 billion just got whacked.”

His process and his machine are at work right now in those very fields.

“Right now, UC-Davis, Auburn University and Cal-Poly are all convinced the only alternative to chemicals is steam,” he said. “Steam is organic and I was the first one to take steam – not to the hospital, not to the choo-choo trains – but to mix it into the soil and run the temperature

Eddie Boy Woerner and Orange Beach, Alabama, musician Scott Koehn.

 up and pasteurize the soil. Wipeout weed seeds, soil-borne diseases, nematodes with one thing - water and steam. Totally organic.”

MARIJUANA FIELDS

While in California he became aware of a problem marijuana growers were having with their soil, a specially made expensive import that can be used one time before having to be replaced.

“Now the pot industry has found out about it and I’m going to start recycling the soil for the medical marijuana guys,” Eddi

e Boy said. “They’re bringing soil in out of India and they are bringing it out of Canada and they are mixing it and paying $110 a cubic yard. They’re dumping it after the first crop because of the disease that gets in there. Instead of taking a chance and growing a second crop they dispose of it. Well, they can’t even take it off-premise because it's contaminated with marijuana.”

Eddie Boy shows up with a portable machine – he’s working on a prototype now – cleans the soil with his steam process and it’s ready for reuse.

“When I pasteurize it, it’s better than it was,” he said. “I’m building right now portable units to go from one place to another and recycle it.”

LIFE LESSONS

Eddie Boy gets asked to speak to groups regularly and he always likes to leave them with a message not just a technical talk about steam and organic farming.

“From now on when I’m asked to speak to a group, I’ll talk about me enough to where they want to listen and get their attention – and I don’t have no problem holding their attention,” he said. “Then I want to give them some things that’s not taught in school. It may be taught in sports and there’s a little bit hinted here and there. But it needs to be drilled in on attitude, work ethic, showing up on time, making your fellow man do better."

Woerner Logo“Nobody wants to hang with somebody with their head down and every damn thing wrong.”

As an example, Eddie Boy used the day of his daughter’s funeral as an example of how to preserve in life.

“I lost a daughter at 36 to breast cancer,” he said. “Approaching that funeral, I knew I was facing an impossible task. Impossible for me to go to that funeral. Going into that shower that morning with an impossible task.”

He likened it to a huge wall, like many thrown up by life in the form of various issues or challenges.

“I was going up against a concrete wall that was so thick it was impossible for me to get to the other side,” he said. “Impossible. But in that process, I discovered up against that wall we all have a choice. We can lay down and let it all end right there. Or we can make a right, make a left, we can go down, we can go up. And that’s a choice. And we may have made the right choice and may not have.

“So, we get to the other end another block wall because they don’t go away sometimes. It’s like going out to a maze in a cornfield. At some point you break out and you’re through with all that. For me, that’s how God worked it out in my mind.”

Eddie Boy said facing that funeral was his wall for a day but he didn’t let it keep him down. He urged this audience to do the same thing.

“We all run into obstacles, they all get us down,” he said. “But you know what? I’m going to fix it or I’m going to be making changes to get out of it this way. I’m not going to stay here. Nothing always goes right but you’ve got to have an attitude you’re not going to give up, not going to lay down and it ain’t going to get you. Whatever is the problem you get rid of ‘em and go somewhere else.

“Figure out what your talent is, don’t slow down and hit it with everything you got.”

Eddie Boy Woerner's steam machine working in a California field.