Deere Moves Into AI, Pinpoint Spraying In Big Way With Acquisition

©Debra L Ferguson

Deere & Company has made a big push into the realm of artificial intelligence. It has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, which which applies machine learning to agriculture. Blue River is based in Sunnyvale, California.

“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. “John Deere recognizes the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere’s future.”

Blue River has applied machine learning to ag 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.

“Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm management decisions from the field level to the plant level,” said Jorge Heraud, Blue River’s co-founder and CEO. “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.”

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Already in 2017, Blue River 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. Deere plans to have the 60-person firm remain in Sunnyvale. The transaction is expected to close in September.

May said the investment in Blue River is similar to Deere’s acquisition of NavCom Technology in 1999, which established Deere as a player in ag-related GPS technology.



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