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Hi-Tech Farming: John Deere will provide assistance to four innovative startups in 2021.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 1, 2021

3 Min Read
sensor in cornfield
AIRBORNE PATHOGENS: A new startup company, Scanit, uses sensors to collect airborne pathogens in crop fields and specialty crops to help growers make earlier decisions.Courtesy of Scanit and John Deere

Why does a world-leading agriculture product, technology and service company work with startup companies?

Julian Sanchez, Director of Emerging Technology for John Deere, says it’s because innovation is one of Deere’s core values, and working with startups continues the innovative spirit that helps define Deere.

John Deere began the Startup Collaborator program in 2019 with the goal to deepen interaction with startup companies whose technology could add value for John Deere customers. The yearlong program provides flexibility for both Deere and the startups to test innovative technologies with Deere’s customers and dealers without a more formal business relationship.

One of the startups added for 2021 is Scanit, a company using proprietary technology to filter and identify bacteria, fungi and other airborne particles through autonomous sensors. The goal in agriculture is to detect plant pathogens before symptoms are visible, giving growers a jump on treatment decisions and control. Developers say it’s more effective than algorithms or crop modeling alone because the sensors physically detect pathogens in real time. Visit and watch a four-minute video that explains the passion and potential propelling this innovative solution.

Carbon marketplace

Another startup John Deere is working with in 2021 is Nori, an innovative company that has set up a marketplace for carbon. Visit and check out the carbon story in a four-minute video by a group called Kiss the Ground. Using animated diagrams, this video makes the case for regenerative agriculture as a solution for climate change instead of being part of the problem.

Where does Nori fit? This startup claims to be the facilitator for the carbon marketplace. Anyone from investors to large corporations can put up money to remove carbon from the air and store it in the soil. Nori takes a 15% fee for facilitating and documenting that a specific farmer utilizes conservation practices to retain a measurable amount of carbon in the soil. The rest of the money flows to the farmer. Trey Hill of Maryland was the first farmer to receive money from “carbon investors.” Check the website for more details.

Detect nitrogen losses

NVision Ag is also a John Deere Startup Collaborator in 2021. The company’s mission sounds simple — using satellite images to detect where nitrogen is short in the field and help you correct it. The science behind the simple goal is a bit more complex, involving applying algorithms to satellite images to help specialists prepare rate control maps. They can transfer these maps to your application equipment so you can apply more nitrogen where needed. The concept and solutions are based on research at the University of Missouri. Learn more at

Automate equipment

Visit and a video playing in the background looks like a normal construction site. A skid-steer loader drives its bucket into a pile of gravel, then pivots and carries the gravel to a trench where a construction worker is waiting and drops gravel into the trench. It all looks normal until you realize that there is no one in the cab. The operator is in an office, miles away, operating the skid-steer remotely.

This is what Teleo, the final startup John Deere added to its collaborator program, is all about — converting conventional construction and mining equipment into tele-operated robots.   

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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