JOHN Deere has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, which is based in Sunnyvale, California and is a leader in applying machine learning to agriculture.
“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,” John Deere’s Agricultural Solutions president and chief information officer, John May, said.
He said Blue River Technology had successfully applied machine learning to agricultural spraying equipment and Deere was confident similar technology could be used in the future on a wider range of products.
Blue River had designed and integrated computer vision and machine learning technology that would enable growers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds were present, optimising the use of inputs in farming – a key objective of precision agriculture.
“Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm management decisions from the field level to the plant level,” Blue River Technology co-founder and CEO, Jorge Heraud, said.
“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.”
Already in 2017, 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.
John Deere said it will invest $305 million to fully acquire Blue River Technology.
It plans to have the 60-person firm remain in Sunnyvale with an objective to continue its rapid growth and innovation with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has led to its success.
The transaction is expected to close in September.
Mr May said the investment in Blue River Technology was similar to Deere’s acquisition of NavCom Technology in 1999 that established Deere as a leader in the use of GPS technology for agriculture and accelerated machine connectivity and optimisation.
Source: John Deere