Rather predictably, the recently announced John Deere acquisition of Monsanto’s Precision Planting raised plenty of eyebrows around the office Tuesday morning, pinged the twitter feed without mercy and, I would assume, generated copious texting, phoning and discussion across our nation’s farms and ag retail offices.
What would the acquisition mean for Precision Planting’s large dealer network? How will the new relationship affect data policies and sharing at Monsanto and Deere? And what would become of Precision Planting’s relationship with other equipment manufacturers?
The Climate Corporation, involved in the deal as sellers of the Precision Planting hardware, held a press call on Tuesday to help put out any fires the initial announcement might have started. And after the fact, Deere spoke to us directly.
Here’s seven things we learned about the deal from the presser and other conversations:
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- The “facilitation” of the wireless connection for data movement between Climate Corp.’s Climate FieldView software platform and John Deere equipment will be undertaken by local John Deere dealers. The Precision Planting dealer network will remain intact to service equipment.
- After completion of the deal early next year, Deere dealers will have the opportunity to become Precision Planting dealers, which has a steep training curve and requires certification. Some Deere dealers may take existing collaborations with Precision Planting dealers a step further and look to integrate them into the Deere dealer. As independent entities, Deere dealers are free to take their own approach to this new relationship.
- Deere wants very much to retain the entrepreneurial spirit and speed to market ability that Precision Planting has possessed and executed effectively, so integration will likely be measured, Deere manager of media relations Barry Nelson said in an emailed statement.
- Climate Corp’s parent company Monsanto will enjoy no back door, exclusive, or enhanced access to grower’s agronomic and machine data unless explicitly approved by the grower. “Our data principles remain the same – the farmer that produced the data on their farm with their machines owns that data – this acquisition does not move data from the Climate system into Monsanto. We take our data privacy policies very seriously,” said Climate VP and COO Mike Stern during the press call.
- There is a slight difference in the level of connectivity between Deere’s Application Program Interface (API) partnership agreements and the integration with Climate FieldView, with the FieldView connection sounding a bit more robust than the typical API. According to John Raines, senior VP, agronomic services, data transfer from one machine’s cloud account into another cloud account is possible but also an arduous process for growers. “This real-time connection allows the data to stream from the machine to the cloud and at the same time can be visualized in the cab while simultaneously beamed to Climate’s cloud storage servers.”
- The deal is scheduled to be complete in Q1 of 2016, and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Deere’s agreement to acquire European planter equipment manufacturer Monosem will “help accelerate the company’s market reach in precision planting equipment, and adds engineering expertise to further develop planting technology with a focus on helping customers increase their productivity,” according to a communication supplied by Deere. Monosem also has a modest presence in the US market.