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Blue River Technology & John Deere: Putting Sustainability First

When it comes to sustainability, John Deere knows how important it is to make this a top priority as a leader in the agricultural industry. Whether Deere is focused on evolving its key technology or improving an existing line of equipment, the company has always had an eye on how it can help farmers do their job while minimizing their carbon footprint. This is where Blue River Technology, the intelligent machinery creator, comes into play.

What Does Blue River Technology Do?

Blue River Technology is a business led by innovators who are motivated to change the way agricultural practices are carried out with sustainability in mind. The company was formed by Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden back in 2011. The two shared a common goal of making farming more sustainable through the use of computer vision and robotics. They were able to successfully test their ideas utilizing machine learning, robotics, and computer vision in California’s Central Valley. Thanks in part to a grant, as well as support from friends and family, Blue River Technology was born.

Today, Blue River Technology is focused on creating robotics for those working in the agricultural industry. By bringing more intelligent machinery to the field, farmers are able to execute their daily tasks while worrying less about leaving a negative impact on the environment.

John Deere & Blue River Technology: Working Together to Build a More Sustainable World

As Blue River Technology made waves in the world of sustainability and agriculture, John Deere took notice. The company acquired Blue River back in 2017, allowing it to remain an independently operated subsidiary. In exchange, Deere gained further insight into the potential of precision agriculture technology and how it could help farmers shift their focus to more sustainable practices.

“I truly believe in Blue River because I believe our technology can turn rivers blue,” says Heraud. “Imagine a world where farmers don’t spray their fields. They just spray individual weeds.”

Today, Blue River and John Deere are placing cameras onto Deere sprayers. This allows computers to identify and decipher crops from weeds. In turn, only weeds are sprayed, leaving crops unharmed.

“If you were sick, you wouldn’t give an antibiotic to everyone in the building, right? You would just give it to you,” says Willy Pell, vice president of autonomy and new ventures at Blue River. “Same for plants, right? We should just give each plant what it needs.”

By leveraging Blue River’s technology for herbicide application, overall spray application is reduced by up to 90%. Not only does this improve sustainability from an agricultural perspective, but it also reduces costs for farmers. In turn, they can feel good about their savings as they work toward reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Blue River is currently focused on refining See & Spray™ technology from John Deere. This targeted crop spraying system can be used for corn, soybean, and cotton. When using the See & Spray Ultimate system from Deere, farmers can reduce their non-residual herbicide usage by more than two-thirds. The ExactApply nozzle control technology reduces potential drift while out in the field. This means that farmers can rest assured that they aren’t spreading residual herbicide and other chemicals onto nearby land.

Further, thanks to AutoTrac™ technologies, agricultural producers can also ensure that their sprayer stays between rows and off the crop. This further reduces potential crop damage, resulting in a higher quality yield. Actionable mapping data is also transferred to the John Deere Operations Center to help farmers make more informed decisions. Because See & Spray Ultimate is factory-installed, it is entirely integrated and supported by a John Deere dealer, who can provide assistance whenever needed.

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