Trimble has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Bilberry, a French technology company specializing in selective spraying systems for sustainable farming. Combining the technology and strengths of both companies will enable the development of new selective spraying solutions for farmers worldwide.
Farmers face a variety of challenges including rising production costs, increasing weed resistance to herbicides and expanding regulations to encourage more sustainable farming practices. These regulations target improving soil restoration, soil fertility and nutrient management as well as reducing the use of chemicals, particularly those that pose a risk for health or the environment. Selective spraying solutions are ideal to help farmers address these challenges.
Bilberry is a pioneer in applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology that identifies a wide variety of weed species in real time for a broad range of crop types. The system allows sprayers to be retrofitted with the technology to apply herbicide to only weeds (green-on-green) rather than spraying an entire crop or bare ground. It also enables farmers to visualize their crops on a weed density map so they can track the evolution of problem areas. Bilberry was one of the first companies to make this technology commercially available and case studies have shown that the system can reduce the use of herbicides by more than 80 percent, while protecting the environment and significantly lowering input costs for farmers.
Trimble provides technology solutions across the entire agricultural supply chain—from guidance and data management to application control and harvesting. As part of its crop protection portfolio, Trimble’s “WeedSeeker” system has been widely deployed. The system can identify plants on bare soil (green-on-brown) and can only be used prior to the crop emerging from the soil. The addition of Bilberry’s AI technology and extensive worldwide weed database will extend Trimble’s crop protection portfolio by providing selective spraying to identify differences in plants (green-on-green) and can be used throughout the spraying season as well as prior to crops emerging.
Combining the technology and strengths of Trimble and Bilberry will enable the development of new selective spraying solutions for farmers worldwide, who often struggle to integrate and use disparate hardware and software products across various brands of agricultural equipment.
“Our planned acquisition of Bilberry builds out Trimble’s crop protection portfolio by adding green-on-green selective spraying capabilities and supports our development of autonomous solutions,” said Jim Chambers, vice president of Trimble Agriculture. “The Bilberry solution is brand agnostic and compatible with a broad range of spraying equipment manufacturers, which is ideal for mixed fleet operations. This capability, together with existing Trimble competencies, will enable us to expand our role in the growing market for precision agriculture solutions that can reduce input costs, create efficiencies for our customers and drive sustainability in farming.”
“Trimble is a global provider of precision agriculture solutions, and we are excited about the opportunity to take our business to the next level. As customer demand continues to grow for selective spraying technology, we will be able to leverage relationships with Trimble’s worldwide distribution channel,” said Guillaume Jourdain, co-founder and CEO of Bilberry. “Our technology will offer farmers the ability to gain even more efficiencies out of their existing or new equipment with innovative spraying solutions that have a positive impact on the environment.”
The Bilberry business will be reported as part of Trimble’s Resources and Utilities segment. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to certain closing conditions and regulatory approval.