Deere & Co. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., and is a leader in applying machine learning to agriculture.
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.
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. The company 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, optimizing the use of inputs in farming — a key objective of precision agriculture.
Beverly Flores, media relations manager for Deere, says in the short-term, Blue River will continue field testing its See & Spray platform and continue operating as a separate business. Long-term, Flores says conversations will take place as to how and when Blue River's technology will be integrated into it's dealer network.
“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.”
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 May, President, Agricultural Solutions, and Chief Information Officer at Deere 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 optimization.