Japanese company Kubota is on the warpath to become a major supplier of agricultural machinery worldwide.
To this end, Kubota has taken over many companies in part or in full in the past year. It’s becoming a formidable competitor worldwide to the five major manufacturers of implements and agricultural tractors (John Deere, Case New Holland, Agco (including Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra), Same Deutz-Fahr and Claas).
In the last months of 2021 Kubota is reportedly in talks with the owners of Escorts, one of the biggest tractor manufacturers in India, to increase its share and ultimately become the controlling shareholder. With this the Japanese company is looking to double down on the world’s largest tractor market just as demand is starting to pick up after Covid-19-induced lockdowns.
In November Kubota acquired 100% of the stock of Pulverizadores Fede, a Spanish manufacturer of sprayers and smart spraying technology. Pulverizadores Fede operates mainly in Spain and Portugal. Its sprayers are used for pest and disease control in the specialty crops market. Kubota says its strength is in proprietary high-end technologies which are already in practical use.
Also in November AgJunction, a global provider of guidance, autosteering, and autonomy solutions for precision agriculture applications, has entered into a definitive arrangement agreement to be acquired by Kubota Corporation. According to AgJunction, agricultural machine automation is rapidly advancing with increasing investment and consolidation. Adoption of new automation demands tighter vehicle integration and large-scale distribution.
In October the Italian ROC became part of the Kubota Group Company to strengthen its hay and forage products business. ROC is a specialized manufacturer of implements called mergers, which are used to swath cut crops, and these have become popular in recent years among large-scale dairy farmers and contractors.
In the same month Kubota Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, together with Impact Ventures, have invested US$ 25 million in Advanced Farm Technologies (AFT), a US-based start-up that develops and manufactures a robotic strawberry harvester.
In February this year Kubota participated in a ‘Series B’ venture funding investment round totalling US$ 20 million for Tevel. Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, founded in 2017 in Israel, is developing autonomous flying robots for fruit picking. It is combining AI with computer vision, advanced robotics, aeronautical engineering, state-of-the-art flight control, and data fusion and perception.
Although Kubota’s next participation was not this year but in October 2020, it is worth mentioning in conclusion. Because then Kubota partnered with American chip manufacturer Nvidia to develop self-driving tractors. Using Nvidia’s graphics processing units, artificial intelligence and cameras, the tractors are able to operate fully autonomously.