Nov 8 DuPont Pioneer, the agricultural seed unit
of DuPont, said Friday that it has aligned with farm
machinery company Deere & Co in a race against rival
Monsanto Co to provide farmers with enhanced "precision
agriculture" analyses aimed at maximizing crop production.
The programs these companies will roll out next year will
give farmers guidance on a number of field management decisions,
including planting, crop treatment, pest control and even the
best time to harvest.
Officials with DuPont Pioneer said customers using its new
precision agronomy software will be able to move data wirelessly
through a fledgling wireless transfer system offered by Deere,
speeding response times for data-driven recommendations Pioneer
is rolling out in new "Field360" products next year.
Farmers can receive field-specific information that can help
them with an array of decisions related to planting, field
management and harvesting to try to maximize crop yields,
according to DuPont Pioneer Director of Services Joe Foresman.
In the past, Pioneer has focused on counseling farmers on
the best seed to plant for their particular farms. But the deal
with Deere is the latest in a series of moves by both Pioneer
and rival Monsanto Co. to turn farm-related data
analyses into new profit streams by incorporating analytics on
an array of data points, including soil types, fungicide
application timing, weather patterns, and pest management.
The precision agriculture approach uses computer technology
and the global positioning system to ensure that seeds,
fertilizer and chemicals are applied correctly.
The move by DuPont Pioneer to align with Deere comes after
Monsanto on Nov. 1 completed its acquisition of The Climate
Corp, spending nearly $1 billion to buy the weather data and
modeling technology company. That followed Monsanto's purchase
in 2012 of Precision Planting Inc.
Though it will not initially incorporate the climate data,
Monsanto plans to launch its "FieldScripts," analytics program
in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota in 2014 priced at about
$10 per acre.
Both companies say the future of farming and increased food
production will be closely tied to sophisticated analyses of
data to let farmers know what types of seed work best in certain
fields; where in a field they might want to plant more seed, or
less; where they might have better moisture; or more need for
chemical treatments; and what type of weather events they might
How much in revenue these data-driven product lines might
translate to for the seed companies is still unknown.
"As we build and demonstrate value for the farmer it creates
that opportunity for us to have value recognized," said
Foresman. "It's really a good foundation to build from."
Edward Jones analyst Matt Arnold, who tracks the sector,
said the value proposition is still murky.
"We think it is too early to tell how meaningful the revenue
opportunity is in this business, or who is poised to prevail as
the market leader," Arnold said.
DuPont Pioneer has "mapped" about 20 million acres from 2012
to 2013, filling a database that can churn out "yield maps" for
customers, and provide about 1.5 million acres of variable
The alliance with Deere, which is not exclusive, will speed
up the turnaround of such yield maps by months, by allowing
transfer of data between farmers and DuPont Pioneer analysts
wirelessly, said Foresman.
The company will be working to forge similar arrangements
with other equipment manufacturers, he said.