A behemoth of US farming enters the 21st century you could almost say.
John Deere, the famous US tractor maker whom financial markets hear very little about except when it comes to quarterly reporting, got into business newspapers worldwide with its acquisition of Blue River Technology, a Californian startup that makes machine learning tools for agriculture.
In other words, your tractor will pretty soon have artificial intelligence in it that will allow it to scan fields, assess crops, and get rid of weeds
The price of the acquisition you ask? John Deere neatly paid 305 million dollars for the California startup and is counting on putting these cutting-edge machine tools into their tractors as from next year.
John Deere, which has a current market valuation of over 38 billion dollars, explained the acquisition in a statement.
"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. 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."
The statement was signed by John May, President Agricultural Solutions and Chief Information Officer at Deere.
John Deere was quietly working on automated tractors before Google and Tesla even started, but has to admit that even its most advanced vehicles today still need a human in the cab. All that could change with this latest acquisition though.
The vineyards in California’s Lodi valley, held by the family of Mr Aaron Lange were glad to try out the first of John Deere’s new advanced technology tractors.
“We farmers see the writing on the wall and are innovating faster than ever before,” says Mr Lange, adding: “If we’re not reducing our need for hand labor, then we could face significant challenges to the success of our farms.”