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New John Deere AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment For A More Sustainable Future

September 11, 2017

John Deere Labs, which opened last spring, recently acquired Blue River Technology, a startup with computer vision and machine learning technology that can identify weeds, making it possible to spray herbicides only where they’re needed and in turn reducing chemical use and improving crop yield for farmers. The move is one step forward in John Deere’s goal of utilizing technology to target crops and soil for optimum productivity and health, helping farmers grow enough food for an exploding global population. The weed-selection technology — which allows farmers to make use of organic herbicides that would otherwise kill their crops if applied to fields without discernment — will first be marketed to cotton growers. Computer vision and machine learning technology can also be used throughout the entire farming process —  tilling soil, planting seeds in the optimal locations, spraying fertilizer or nutrients, and harvesting — and could help dramatically increase yield for farmers at each of these steps. With a looming need for the global food supply to nearly double as the human population continues to grow, such gains will be necessarily fruitful.

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Image courtesy of Deere & Company.

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