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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

John Deere Acquires Precision Planting from Monsanto

John Deere has signed an agreement with Monsanto subsidiary The Climate Corporation to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business for an undisclosed amount – a deal that will give certain John Deere farm machinery exclusive, nearly real-time data connectivity with the Climate FieldView platform. This will also be the first instance within the industry of near real-time in-cab wireless integration between John Deere equipment and a third party.

Through the integration, John Deere states that its customers will have the option to share their historic and current agronomic data between the John Deere Operations Center and the Climate Corp. FieldView platform to then gain real-time insights that can be carried out with John Deere equipment.

"Climate Corporation will use John Deere's software connection, known as an API, to allow customers to send agronomic prescriptions from FieldView through John Deere Operations Center to their equipment in the field,” said Barry Nelson, John Deere - Agriculture & Turf Division.

Deere will acquire the Precision Planting brand along with factories and the bulk of the unit’s line of products including all of its hardware, sensors, actuators, and display systems, as it advances its strategy to use technology to increase farming efficiency and productivity.

Under the terms of the agreement, John Deere dealerships will have the option to become Precision Planting dealers, but will not be given Precision Planting just by being a John Deere dealership explains Cory Reed, Senior Vice President of John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group ISG, which will be responsible for integrating Precision Planting into the John Deere portfolio. "We will maintain the separate premier dealership network of the independent Precision Planting dealerships that exist today."

“Agriculture is changing significantly,” John May, Deere Chief Information Officer, told Bloomberg by phone. “Deere wants to seamlessly connect people with equipment, technology and insights to give them a greater advantage with that entire production cycle.”

Although probably the highest profile deal, this is John Deere’s third precision agriculture agreement announced by the company within the past five weeks. On October 8, the company announced the formation of the joint venture, SageInsights, designed to further develop MyAgCentral – a cloud software platform initially developed by software and data firm, DN2K for agricultural retailers and consultants, and earlier this week, John Deere agreed to acquire Monosem, the leading precision planter company in Europe.

For Monsanto, having access to Monosem through John Deere will broaden its market for its FieldView app, according to John Raines, senior vice president at Monsanto’s Climate Corp, who told Bloomberg, “We’re doubling down on our focus on the digital ag space.”

This latest deal with John Deere now gives Monsanto agreements to integrate its FieldView platform with the three largest agricultural equipment makers in the world, having prior agreements with CNH Industrial NV and AGCO Corp., and strengthens Monsanto’s position to gain from future adoption and growth within the precision ag space. Indeed, this re-positioning aligns with Monsanto’s recently adopted shift in strategy to diversify and expand its core activities beyond seeds and crop protection, toward a future in big data following its recently failed bid to acquire Syngenta for $46 billion.

“We transformed from industrial chemical company to a biotech company, then to a seeds company,” said Robert T. Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto. “Now, we’re transforming again.”

As the global agricultural production machine that once was revolutionized by advances in farming equipment races forward into a future where it will depend more and more upon big data to meet the growing global demand for food, it is becoming more apparent that the two segments – big data and equipment, will become increasingly interdependent. Players within both industries will be maneuvering to form connections across the divide in order to be able to best profit from this evolution.

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