Silicon Valley’s Newest Resident: John Deere

Image courtesy of jpmarth

When most of us think of high-tech companies, we tend to think of the outfits that make software we can use on our phones: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Uber, and all the rest. But the computerization trends of the past decades have affected agriculture and industry just as much as anyone else, and now famous farming company John Deere is planting its flag in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Axios reported today that the new office, John Deere Labs, is located right in San Francisco and will be at the forefront of the company’s efforts to expand and refine its “computer vision and machine learning.”

Since we will always need to eat food, we will always need someone to grow, harvest, and process it — so agriculture is still as big a business as ever. And arable land is a finite quantity, so the agriculture industry will continue to need to increase productivity and crop yields.

Farm equipment, including John Deere’s, has been increasingly software-driven for years. The company is a pioneer in autonomous driving tech, Axios points out: We’ve had self-driving tractors for years, while a passenger vehicle that (legally) cruises the streets without a driver behind the wheel — even if it’s just in case of emergency — is still a while away.

Letting farm equipment do some work on its own frees up farmers to focus on more pressing and complicated tasks, Axios explains.

So why San Francisco? Because that’s where the tech is, of course. The man heading up the new office told Axios, “We found ourselves renting hotel rooms quite a bit” in the Bay Area, so it seemed an ideal place to set up shop.