Deere Acquires Ag Technology Company
By Mike Brezonick07 September 2017
Deere & Co. said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, Sunnyvale, Calif., a privately held supplier of advanced spray and application technology that uses machine learning in agricultural applications. Deere said it will invest $305 million to complete the acquisition, which is expected to close in September.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with a Blue River Technology team that is highly skilled and intensely dedicated to rapidly advancing the implementation of machine learning in agriculture,” said John May, president, Agricultural Solutions, and chief information officer at Deere. “As a leader in precision agriculture, John Deere recognizes the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere’s future.”
Blue River Technology has successfully applied machine learning to agricultural spraying equipment such as its See & Spray technology that incorporates computer vision and machine learning technology designed to enable growers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present, optimizing the use of inputs in farming, which is a key objective of precision agriculture, Deere said. May said that similar technology can be used in the future on a wider range of products.
“Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm management decisions from the field level to the plant level,” said Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology. “We are using computer vision, robotics, and machine learning to help smart machines detect, identify, and make management decisions about every single plant in the field.”
This year, Blue River Technology has been listed among Inc. Magazine’s 25 Most Disruptive Companies, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, CB Insights 100 Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies in the World, and the Top 50 Agricultural Innovations by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
Deere plans to have the 60-person firm remain in Sunnyvale with an objective to continue its rapid growth and innovation.
May said the investment in Blue River Technology is similar to Deere’s acquisition of NavCom Technology in 1999 that gave Deere a foundation in the use of GPS technology for agriculture and accelerated machine connectivity and optimization.