John Deere (NYSE: DE) is paying $305 million to acquire startup Blue River Technology from Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech). The deal brings John Deere machine learning robotic technology to the agricultural industry.
With a rapidly increasing global population, farmers are tasked to grow more food than ever. Advanced tech manufacturers have become prime targets for middle-market dealmakers interested in the agricultural sector. Other agriculture-related deals include: Rayonier Advanced Materials’ (NYSE:RYN) purchase of Canadian lumber producer Tembec Inc. and Platform Specialty Products Corp.’s (NYSE: PAH) completed purchase of Chemtura AgroSolutions for $1 billion.
Blue River, based in Sunnyvale, California, uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to produce a variety of robotic systems. The technology is used to observe, identify, and precisely spray individual plants. Blue River recently rolled out new weeding capabilities for cotton materials. The target’s technology is intended to assist crop production by reducing the volume of chemicals by up to 90 percent, according to Blue River.
John Deere is a wholesale distributor of agricultural machinery and other equipment. The Moline, Illinois-based company operates under the Deere & Co. name. John Deere will keep the startup in Sunnyvale.
Blue River is a portfolio company of Pontifax AgTech. In December 2015, Pontifax AgTech led Blue River’s $17.5m Series B funding round. Other con-investors included: Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and Data Collective.