John Deere, set up in 1837, have announced that they have purchased a new start up company called Blue Technology, as reported by wired.com.
Blue Technology was founded in 2011 and are the company behind a new computer-vision technology which can identify and remove unwanted weeds. The company was purchased late last Wednesday by John Deere, for a cool $305million.
John Deere already use extensively GPS in the production of their latest machinery, enabling automatic movements of farm vehicles across fields. This new technology however will help John Deere machinery understand and view crops with more precision, while it will also save farmers time and money.
“Taking care of each individual plant unlocks a lot of economic value for farmers,”,said John Stone, an executive in John Deere’s intelligent-solutions group.
The deal comes as technology is beginning to take over agriculture, with robots now on hand to cultivate crops, feed animals, clean yards and even milk animals automatically. Drones have also been increasingly used by farmers as a way to spread fertilisers, check their stock and even herd their animals.
The latest robots will be towed behind a tractor like a sprayer, though it will have onboard cameras which helps it identify and subsequently spray any weeds. The company are already responsible for another robot on the market, the LettuceBot. To read about the lettuce bot read our featured article on it here.
The Lettucebot is used solely on fields with lettuce planted in them and targets weeds and plants growing on top of each other. It harvests all lettuce heads itself and has been revolutionising lettuce farming in America. The company have also recently tested a similar system for use by cotton farmers.
The company says the new systems can reduce the use of herbicides by up to 90%, which in turn would help protect the environment. The company, now owned by John Deere, also plan to develop seed planting and harvesting equipment with computer vision software. They hope to have equipment for use in soybean and corn harvesting in the coming years.