The chief operations officer of a California-based automated spray rig firm says a new joint venture with John Deere will enable the startup to continue to grow its business.
"We are very excited to be teaming up with Deere," Gary Thompson, COO of GUSS Automation, told Farm Progress in an email. "This partnership will allow us to expedite our growth plans and continue innovating in order to bring new technologies to growers.”
Through the agreement announced April 21, John Deere will help GUSS collaborate with its sales channel and the startup wiill continue its innovation and product development efforts, retaining its 35 full-time employees and its current location, according to Deere.
GUSS machines are already sold primarily through Deere dealerships, and the iconic farm equipment company's "investment" in the joint venture will enhance the relationship, Deere Small Ag & Turf public relations manager Darius Lane said on April 21.
GUSS stands for Global Unmanned Spray System. Dozens of specialty-crop producers have purchased the machines since they were introduced in 2017 by by the Kingsburg, Calif.-based Crinklaw Farm Services, which has been providing agricultural spray services to West Coast growers for more than 35 years.
Necessity inspires invention
The automated sprayers were invented in response to a labor shortage, and GUSS is now the largest ground spray rig business in California for trees and vineyards, Thompson has said.
Deere officials note that multiple GUSS sprayers can be remotely supervised by a single operator, allowing growers to spray orchards and vineyards more quickly and consistently. The machines also control application rates and sprayer speeds across entire fields and in variable terrain, the company explains.
Last week's announcement came as Deere has been using partnerships and acquisitions to bolster its offerings to producers of high-value crops, which include vineyards and orchard crops as well as myriad field crops such as carrots, melons, onions, pumpkins, lettuce, peanuts and pine trees.
"A joint venture with GUSS is one of many initiatives Deere is involved with," Lane said in an email. "Deere believes technology and automation enables solutions to problems that high-value crop growers have -- helping them increase efficiency, precision and profitability, and better feed a growing world."
Deere has said GUSS employees, customers, and business partners should notice little change in daily operations resulting from the joint venture.