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Why John Deere Acquired A Robotic Start-Up For A Hefty $305 Million?

Tractor giant John Deere just spent $305 million to acquire a start-up that makes robots capable of identifying unwanted plants

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


It seems that United States based agriculture giants (especially those involved in allied areas), are on their way to an entirely imperial era interests. Just a few days’ earlier two Mammoths of agro-chemical industry namely DuPont and Dow Chemicals have merged to form Dow-DuPont in a hefty multi-billion dollar deal. This is the time for John Deere, another agriculture automotive giant, to take over a start-up!

Blue river technology is the robotic and artificial intelligence tool developer firm was thriving to ensure its presence in US market and was also trying to spread its tentacles in eastern markets of the world had been surprisingly taken over by a giant like John Deere.

Look out weeds. Tractor giant John Deere just spent $305 million to acquire a start-up that makes robots capable of identifying unwanted plants, and shooting them with deadly, high precision squirts of herbicide, was the tone used in many of the western media reports.

Why John Deere?

John Deere as suggested earlier, involved in precision agriculture business and is amongst world leaders in its segment which satisfies the need of mechanisation of agriculture industry, especially in developing nations with little higher land holding sizes.

Size of the robotics industry in agriculture is also a factor which attract farm mechanisation company to explore opportunities on first come first occupy basis.

John Deere, established in 1837 to manufacture hand tools, announced it had acquired Blue River Technology, founded in 2011, late Wednesday.

Deere already sells technology that uses GPS to automate the movements of farm vehicles across a field to sub-inch accuracy. John Stone, an executive in the company's intelligent solutions group, says Blue River’s computer-vision technology will help Deere's equipment view and understand the crops it is working with. “Taking care of each individual plant unlocks a lot of economic value for farmers,” Stone says.

The deal highlights the growing appetite for high tech in agriculture. Many companies are using drones to help farmers by collecting data on crops to plan spraying or other operations. Stone says that Blue River’s technology can make a larger impact on productivity because it makes decisions up close, on the ground.

Pesticides and other chemicals are traditionally applied blindly across a whole field or crop. Blue River’s systems are agricultural sharp shooters that direct chemicals only where they are required, it is a fact that mastering in such technology can let any firm pose itself as ecological philanthropist and earn the money as well.

What may be a possible target?

While North America led in the market in 2015, it is expected that Asia Pacific will witness a rapid growth in the agriculture robots market on account of big contribution by Japan and China, China with a natural curse of smaller land holding sizes had played a major role for agri-mechanisation industry on domestic level, rather it capitalised on the lucrative opportunities within agri-robotics market. Agriculture robots are increasingly being used for management of dairy and also for horticulture. This is acting as a key driver for the growth of the agriculture robots market in Asia Pacific. Players in the region are taking continuous efforts to develop and ensure product innovation which is furthering the growth of the market. The automated harvesting machine is high in demand, which is also boosting the market in the region. Driverless tractors are also leading in terms of demand in the Asia Pacific region.