Greentronics designs and manufactures electronic control products for agriculture
By Ryan Ridley
Attendees of the 2020 Farms.com Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase met virtually with Bill Menkveld of Greentronics to learn about the origins of the company, its current ag technologies, and new projects.
Menkveld is vice president of sales and administration at Greentronics, which designs, manufactures, and sells a wide range of electronic products for agriculture.
Bill founded the company with his brother Bert back in 1994.
At that time, Bill was working in the farm equipment industry while Bert had a career in electronics engineering.
It all started when the two paired their electronic design and farm equipment experience together to design a yield monitor for potato harvest.
Menkveld explains how back in the 90s, the adoption of yield monitors on grain combines was becoming increasingly popular, which caught the attention of some potato farmers.
“Potato farmers were interested in finding out if that technology could be adopted to potato harvest,” says Menkveld. “Potatoes of course have much higher input costs when compared to corn and beans – also much higher revenues. So, it was really interesting learning whether you could do some yield mapping in potatoes and manage your farm better.”
Greentronics has since developed its yield monitoring to be used on different types of equipment and crops, including carrots, beets, onions, as well as grapes and sugarcane.
“When you capture data, you can manage your farm better. Look at the reports and work with your agronomist to understand what it all means. Those are important things that help you farm in the future,” he says.
It wasn’t long after that until the duo was tasked with another project, this time to develop an automatic boom height control system for potato harvest.
“The goal was to take some work away from the machine operator and at the same time control the drop height a little bit better than what you can do manually,” he explains. “And of course, by controlling drop height, you control bruise percentage, which causes issues during storage and leads to a higher grade out percentage.”
Since those first two successful projects, Greentronics has expanded its staff to nine and has developed several more products, including:
- RiteHeight – Sprayer Boom Height Control
- RiteDepth – Automatic Depth & Distance Controller
- RiteDrop – Automatic Drop Height Controller
- RiteYield – Yield Monitor
- RiteWeight – In-line Conveyor System
- RiteTilt – Automatic Tilt Controller
- RiteSpeed – Automatic Belt Slip Monitor
- Rate Monitor RM100 – Fertilizer Application Rate Monitor and On-Board Weighing System
- RiteTrace – Fully Automated Track & Trace System
Sustainable farming and traceability are important concepts for Greentronics, but “many of these practices when you take them on cost you upfront money on the farm, and sometimes the pay back is many years coming.”
Menkveld notes that like farmers, agri-businesses that are working on developing the technologies to make sustainable farming and traceability practices possible also have their own costs to overcome.
“That’s why in a way when you talk about sustainable farming, I see this as a society wide responsibility. If society wants our farmers to farm with practices that makes farming sustainable, then everyone must play a role,” explains Menkveld. “We do see that happening when you look at how our governments use tax dollars to put support programs in place that we can access as small businesses and farmers can access to implement new technologies on their farms. Some of that shared responsibility is already there.”
Watch the below video with Bill Menkveld to learn more about Greentronics’ current line-up of products. He also shares insights into the future of ag tech.