John Deere is teaming with California winegrape growers to pilot innovations that could advance sustainability and stand to transform the future of vineyards, the partners said Thursday.
The agricultural equipment giant will join the Sonoma County Winegrowers' Farm of the Future, a "living lab" and innovation accelerator where companies can pilot emerging farm technologies, according to a news release. Other members of the accelerator include corporate heavyweights Ford Pro and Wilbur Ellis, plus startups like Agrology and Pellenc.
"This new collaboration will be one of the most significant developments for winegrapes and other high value crops," Karissa Kruse, president and CEO of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, said in a statement about Deere’s involvement.
Sonoma County Winegrowers' Farm of the Future grew out of a collaboration with Ford Pro in 2022. Wilbur Ellis joined the effort last year, with plans to help growers boost soil health and optimize water use.
Climate change presents an existential threat to wine growers in Sonoma County, home to one of the largest and most diverse winegrowing regions in the country. Hotter temperatures can damage grapes, as can wildfires. Devastating fires in 2020, for example, reduced crop values by an estimated 30%, according to research from the University of California, Davis.
"Our focus is working with a real purpose on real technology to bring about a real impact," Sean Sundberg, business integration manager at John Deere, said in a statement. "We look forward to addressing some of the biggest challenges facing winegrowers and farmers of other high value crops by developing solutions that address our customers' needs."