AGCO Tells How Recent JCA Tech Buy Affects Its Products, Those of Competitors

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
AGCO continues to target the high-tech retrofit market with its most recent purchase, Canadian technology innovator, JCA. (DTN photo by Dan Miller)

AGCO's purchase of Canadian technology developer JCA Technologies brings to the ag equipment manufacturer growth opportunities in connectivity, autonomy and artificial intelligence -- for the technology applications built into AGCO brands of new equipment and just as importantly, the purchase strengthens AGCO's technology retrofit strategy. AGCO held a press briefing June 13 to discuss its most recent technology acquisition of JCA.

"JCA is one of the most advanced developers of autonomous machine technologies for off-road OEMs, and this acquisition will accelerate AGCO's delivery of machine automation and autonomous systems that improve farmer productivity," AGCO's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Hansotia said at the time of the purchase. JCA, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, specializes in the design of electronic systems and software development to automate and control agricultural equipment. JCA's path planning, sensor fusion, and remote-control software products are all in use today by many original equipment manufacturers.

ACGO sees opportunity in installing JCA technology in its new vehicle fleets -- the embedded foundational technology architectures found in Fendt and Massey Ferguson products -- and in producing a menu of technologies that can be installed on existing machines.

AGCO's 'retrofit first' strategy is built on the realities of the equipment market. For example, only a small percentage of farmers purchase new tractors in any year, but there are more than 3 million tractors, aged 3 to 15 years old in operation in the U.S., with John Deere, Case-IH and New Holland models among them.

"We believe in leveraging the retrofit first business model," Seth Crawford, senior vice president and general manager for Precision Ag and Digital, AGCO, said Monday during a press conference. "We believe in this so strongly because there's such an installed (tractor and machinery) base out there with farmers today. And farmers tell us they don't want to have to buy a completely new fleet in order to enjoy the benefits of investing in precision ag. They want to be able to apply technology to their existing products (through AGCO's retrofit brand, Precision Planting). We believe that JCS capabilities will greatly enhance where we are and where we're going."

AGCO is rapidly building its ag equipment technology stack -- autonomy, automation and artificial intelligence, data management, logistics, connectivity, sensing and guidance -- with properties purchased and by way of minority technology investments, much of it during the last year. Preceding JCA, AGCO purchased Headsight (harvesting solutions), Creative Sites Media (software and app development), Appareo (connectivity and sensing), Faromatics (livestock automation), and has invested in APEX (safety-certified software for mobility, driverless vehicles) and Greeneye (precision spraying). AGCO purchased Precision Planting in 2017.

JCA, founded 20 years ago with a focus on manufacturing wire harnesses and electronics, brings an important suite of technologies to AGCO, including machine control systems, smartphone and tablet app development, data management and communications and autonomous machine systems. "We tend to be quite good at assessing different needs of systems, working with a variety of different teams and then helping to deploy technology," said Darcey Cook, general manager of JCA Technologies. "So, our goal on top of the retrofit first strategy and building that out, is to engage with the other teams within AGCO, and help it deploy technology through (AGCO) machines."

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