Clint Brauer – After an investment of Chipotle, ready to scale his robots to weed hundreds of thousands of acres

A check-in interview with Clint Brauer, founder and CEO of Greenfield, company powering chemical-free agriculture with advanced AI-powered robots, about his dream to get chemicals and expensive machinery out of broad acre, row crop farming (AKA soy corn farming which currently occupies millions of acres around the world, especially in large industrialised agriculture countries), the ending of the era of the chemicals, and much more.


After interviewing Clint in September 2020, we check in on what has changed; farmers and many others in the space see that the era of chemicals is ending. It might not look like that yet, but we have already won: chemical-free, broad-acre farming is totally possible: now it is about execution. What else has changed? Is Clint still interested in integrating animals, and why has Chipotle invested in the company?


Farmers have changed their minds about using chemicals and are now open to using robots in their fields.

”The thing has changed; really, in the last 15 years since I came back to Kansas, with farmers they all agree that chemicals need to go; that’s changed. They all see the risk and that kind of stuff. But we don’t even ask them to agree with that. We don’t even really have that conversation unless they want to have it. We really just start very simply and say, Look, there’s no resistance to blades. And so, that’s step one. And the second thing is that our robots actually damage… this year, we should be at 1% or less of the crop on the entire field. And when you’ve run a big spray rig, you’re at 3% plus. And so, we just break it down very easily” 

Clint Brauer

’’I think any farmer has to think about, ‘okay, when I’m cleaning out my spray rig, what am I doing at my farm? Where’s that going? Even if you use best methods, you’re probably using a garden hose. And it’s probably somewhere on your farm. And you have kids running around; it’s just not a great thing. And so, when they see that we have an alternative, they start to understand the greater vision. They buy into it, and they want to be supportive. And I think what I hear now, most of the time, is that we want to see you win. In fact, I hear that almost every single time.”

Clint Brauer


Chipotle invested in Greenfield after getting to know the company and understanding their regenerative supply chain and robotics integration.

”I think the biggest challenge we’ve had is that we’re based in Kansas, and a lot of firms just won’t take the time to fly and understand what agriculture looks like here. And so, they did. And, to be blunt, I believe every single potential investor that’s been to the farm has invested.”

Clint Brauer

”The other thing that was notable to them was just the fact that I built this regenerative supply chain with Canadae Pet Food and that the robots are now integrating into that. And so, we understand a little bit about ingredients, supply chains, and the complexity involved. And I think that was a portion of it. I think the math that they’ve bought into is the same as ours, that longer term, really small machines that are reconfigurable make a lot of sense. And financial sense, as well as the chemical or no chemical mandate that we’re working towards.”

Clint Brauer


Clint highlights the limitations of current robotics technology in outdoor agriculture, particularly in dealing with dense weeds and complex environments.

”When you look at a no till environment, a lot of the other methods that are being used to weed are dependent on what you do before you plant the crop, meaning till, and if you don’t till, you’ll have a grass or a vining weed that you simply can’t use lasers or other methods to get rid of because they’re just too numerous. And so, you need to have mechanical capabilities. And that’s why chemicals… they are super efficient. And so, that’s what we’re up against, is how do we replace chemicals with mechanical capabilities?”

Clint Brauer


At Greenfield, they are slowly expanding their robot fleet to add new capabilities, aiming for 240 days of operation per year.

”We’re slowly expanding; we got to the point about halfway through last summer season, and we pulled back some of the fleet to engineering to start working on adding other capabilities and refining what we had, meaning other attachments and other sorts of capabilities of the robots. And so, on a broad acre basis, meaning all the crops you mentioned, plus cotton, sorghum, and stuff like that here in the Midwest. The robots will be running well over, starting in April, moving forward about 240 days a year. And they’re going to be doing a lot more than just cutting weeds. And so, we’re working on cover cropping in the spring and soil testing automated. And so that really is where we’re going with it. So with the expansion of the fleet, we’re moving a little bit slower to make sure that we can have those capabilities, because why build another robot? Too many of them before you know how to add all those capabilities to them.”

Clint Brauer

”And you could, in theory, let it go all the way to roller cramp or our next robot that’s coming that I’m not going to talk about in detail today. It’s been three years in the making, can work with that cover crop to eliminate any need for a burn down or residual herbicide, and then you can plant the crop. So that’s what it does. You feed your animals through the winter, you get use of all the plant material that’s there, you avoid knocking it into the ground so the cattle or sheep aren’t eating as much right on the ground. And now you’re setting yourself up for less weed pressure, especially in the case of cereal rye. And as long as you’re following with a crop that cereal rye can’t impact, you set yourself out well for the spring, and then you moved down to the next rotation, and so.”

Clint Brauer


Koen and Clint also talked about:

  • Why the era of chemical inputs is (slowly) ending
  • The importance of soil biology and its impact on agriculture
  • Regenerative agriculture and AI adoption in farming
  • Soil testing and farming practices with a focus on digitalization




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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