MOLINE, Ill. — Deere & Co. has signed an agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, based in Sunnyvale, California, 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 recognizes the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere’s future.”
Blue River Technology has applied machine learning to agricultural spraying equipment, and Deere thinks 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, optimizing the use of inputs — 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,” 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.”
Deere said it will invest $305 million to fully acquire Blue River Technology. Deere plans to have the 60-person firm remain in Sunnyvale. The transaction is expected to close this month.
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.