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Getting rid of herbicides and marketing produce with that goal in mind is the two-pronged business model of GreenField, Inc., a south-central Kansas startup that will be fielding 20 robotic mechanical weeders in broadacre row crops this year.
CEO Clint Brauer says his family’s roots in agriculture drew him out of a career in software and entertainment to a business building and deploying robots from his grandparents’ farm near Cheney, just southwest of Wichita.
“My co-founders of GreenField started one of the first software-as-a-service companies back in the early 2000s and exited into private equity. I liked that model, where instead of buying equipment, you basically rent it,” Brauer says. “It changes your balance sheet, and you use operating capital instead of needing to buy capital and service it with interest rates on top of the debt.
“We’ve used that as a foundation for our robots, along with the fact we can control what issues we have with the machinery. The farmer doesn’t have to worry about it.”
GreenField works with MKC Co-op to schedule and deploy the robots, which are rented on a per-acre basis.
“The co-op picks them up and drops them off, and we provide engineering and mechanical support,” Brauer says.
He says renting GreenField robots to do mechanical post-emergence weeding is much less expensive than using herbicides.
“A no-till farmer is still going to do a burndown of residual, but we take care of the weeds post-plant,” he says. “With our current mode of action, we’re…