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Deere Signs Agreement to Purchase Blue River Technology
Making every pass in the field more economically feasible and optimizing the systems with which they farm has never been more paramount for farmers.
“We want to help farmers make sure that every plant has an equal opportunity to be as robust as it can be in the field while using the least amount of inputs possible,” says Deanna Kovar, director, production & precision ag marketing for John Deere.
What that means is making the leap from managing at the field level to managing at the plant level. By partnering with Blue River Technology, John Deere looks to help farmers achieve that goal.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with a Blue River Technology team who is highly skilled and intensely dedicated to rapidly advancing the implementation of machine learning in agriculture,” says 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.”
Founded in 2011 by Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden, Blue River Technology has designed and integrated computer vision and machine learning technology in lettuce fields, which enables growers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present, optimizing the use of inputs. The company is currently testing the technology in cotton fields.
“Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm-management decisions from the field level to the plant level,” says Jorge Heraud, 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.”
Kovar says she likens the investment in Blue River Technology to Deere’s acquisition of NavCom Technology in 1999. “When we acquired NavCom, which is the home of the StarFire network, it gave us the opportunity to precisely place equipment all over the globe,” she says. “That acquisition transformed agriculture. This opportunity will enable Blue River to continue to innovate in this area, but it also allows us to work together to figure out how we can apply that technology to John Deere sprayers and once again transform agriculture. This is only the beginning of smarter equipment.”
Deere says it will invest $305 million to fully acquire Blue River Technology. The company, which employs 60 people, will remain in Sunnyvale, California. The transaction is expected to close in September.