Always a bridesmaid, finally a bride

John Deere buy startup Blue River and Agco has finalised the purchase of Monsanto's Precision Planting


Machinery
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Deere buy startup Blue River and Agco has finalised the purchase of Monsanto's Precision Planting.

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PRECISION Planting may have been left at the altar due to antitrust concerns, however jilted lover John Deere has moved on to Blue River.

This week Agco announced it has finalised the purchase of North American drill equipment specialist Precision Planting, while John Deere announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology.

Deere & Company, president of agricultural solutions and chief information officer, John May said the company welcomed the opportunity to work with Blue River which is considered a leader in applying machine learning to agriculture.

"As a leader in precision agriculture, John Deere recognises the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere's future,” he said.

Blue River Technology Founders Story

Machine learning is defined as the ability for a computer to learn and adapt without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Mr May said Blue River Technology had 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.

Blue River Technology, co-founder and CEO, Jorge Heraud said the company was advancing precision agriculture by moving from the field to the plant level.

"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," he said

Agco purchases Precision Planting

The sale of Precision Planting to Agco was also finalised this week.

Precision Planting is a division of Climate Corporation a Monsanto company. Agco is a machinery manufacturer and parent company of Massey Ferguson, Fendt and other major machinery brands.

Agco, senior vice president, Eric Hansotia said he was thrilled to announce the closure of the deal.

“Since our intent to acquire announcement, in late July, there has been a lot of excitement in the market,” he said.

Mr Hansotia said the purchase would be beneficial to growers and they would continue to expand on the Climate Corporations business. 

“At the heart of Precision Planting is an intense focus on solving customers’ farming challenges with innovative, practical solutions and providing industry-leading in-field support.”

“We fully intend to maintain and even grow those capabilities.  We will expand the benefits of Precision Planting’s innovation by reaching more growers with a broader global distribution network,” he said.  

Mr Hansoitia said growers would still retain full control of their on-farm data. 

“Our commitment to our customers that they should be in full control of their data is not changing.” 

“This acquisition will strengthen our position as a full line partner for growers around the world by offering cutting edge technology to improve yields and profitability for our growers,” he said.

Deere & Company had been been in negotiations to purchase Precision Planting since 2015. Monsanto announced the intention to purchase was terminated in May this year. 

The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the sale of Precision Planting to Deere due to antitrust concerns in 2016. 

In a press release from the time the US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division acting head, Renata Hesse said “Precision Planting has been a key innovator in high-speed precision planting and Deere’s only significant competitor in developing and selling these technologies.”

Timeline

  • 2006 The Climate Corporation was founded as WeatherBill by two former Google employees. 
  • 2011 Blue River startup begun by the former head of precision agriculture at Trimble and a PhD student and roboticist
  • 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency authorised the Climate Corporation to administer federal crop insurance policies.
  • 2012 Monsanto purchase Precision Planting for $210 million.
  • 2013 Monsanto announce they are acquiring Climate Corporation for over $1 billion.
  • 2014 Precision Planting acquired 640 Labs, an agricultural technology startup based in Chicago.
  • 2015 Monsanto sold the crop insurance business to AmTrust Financial Services.
  • 2015 Monsanto sign an agreement with John Deere to acquire Precision Planting.
  • 2016 Climate Corporation announce data connectivity agreements with several agronomic retailers.
  • 2016 In August 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice  filed a lawsuit to block the sale of Precision Planting to John Deere.
  • 2017 The agreement to sell Precision Planting LLC to John Deere was terminated in May.
  • 2017 In July Monsanto entered into an agreement with Agco for the sale of Precision Planting.
  • 2017 Agco announce the successful purchase of Precision Planting in September.​
  • 2017 In the same week Deere and Company announce the intent to purchase Blue River Technology.
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