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John Deere invests $300 M in AI and machine learning

By on 13 September, 2017

With great accuracy and precision, See & Spray applies herbicide only to weeds, avoiding chemical application on the cotton crop or on areas without weeds. Image source: Blue River Technology.

 

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) 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,” said John May, President, Agricultural Solutions, and Chief Information Officer at Deere. “As a leader in precision agriculture, John Deere recognises the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere’s future.”

As an innovation leader, Blue River Technology has successfully applied machine learning to agricultural spraying equipment and Deere is confident that similar technology can be used in the future on a wider range of products, May said.

Blue River has designed and integrated computer vision and machine learning technology that will enable growers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present, optimising the use of inputs in farming – a key objective of precision agriculture.

Blue River’s drone-based phenotyping efforts are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s program to develop cutting-edge remote sensing platforms, complex data analytics tools, and high-throughput plant breeding technology to improve sorghum as a biofuel. Image source: Blue River Technology.

 

“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.”

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.

Deere said it will invest $305 million to fully acquire Blue River Technology. Deere 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.

May said the investment in Blue River Technology is 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.

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land – those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at JohnDeere.com or in Australia and New Zealand at JohnDeere.com.au and JohnDeere.co.nz.

Blue River Technology (www.BlueRiverTechnology.com) is a pioneer in applying machine learning to help farmers optimise every plant in their fields. By providing equipment that can see and manage each plant, Blue River helps farmers reduce inputs, increase profitability and care for the land.

 

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