When a potato grower discovers a batch of spoiled spuds in the bulk storage, tracing the problem back to the specific field location they came from isn’t easy. After all, each storage can contain potatoes from any number of acres. Greentronics co-founder Bill Menkveld believes his company can help.
Since 1994, the Elmira, Ontario-based business has developed a wide range of electronic control devices for agricultural equipment. Now, their product lineup includes RiteTrace: a fully automated traceability system that logs harvest locations, dates, times, temperatures and other key details for root vegetable crops. What’s more, it produces 3D maps of each bulk storage revealing where each load ends up — something no other system on the market can do.
If issues arise, growers can overlay that information with spraying records, weather reports, soil tests and other data to zero in on underlying causes. Conversely, they can also identify the conditions that produced the highest-quality harvest.
RiteTrace replaces cumbersome and unreliable manual recordkeeping: no more indecipherable scribbles, incorrect totals or rain-soaked notebooks. And because it satisfies many traceability requirements, RiteTrace creates greater assurance for buyers and the end consumer.
The robust tool has generated plenty of interest from large-scale growers. “People are really excited,” says Menkveld. “They can use that data to understand whether their farms are being run efficiently and where they can improve things.”
Bioenterprise saw the potential as well. The agri-tech accelerator invited Greentronics to apply for seed funding aimed at helping them reach the next level of commercial success. The company received $30,000 to hire a full-time coder and a part-time marketing coordinator. As well as creating local jobs, the funding enabled Greentronics to develop new features for RiteTrace and reach more potential customers through tradeshows, promotional videos and advertising.
Those dollars were very welcome, says Menkveld, but he also appreciated Bioenterprise’s non-financial contributions — from help navigating the patent application process to simply validating their ideas. “It was really, really encouraging to have their feedback,” he says. “Given their experience, that meant a lot.”
Today, Greentronics boasts nine employees and is eyeing a larger facility to accommodate their expanding operations. As demand for protection and assurance within the food industry grows, they’re attracting customers around the world. And although RiteTrace is currently aimed at potato growers, it could easily apply to anything stored in bulk, including onions, carrots and even grain.
“I believe that we’re on the right track,” says Menkveld, with characteristic modesty.