Deere & Co. announced Thursday it has formed a joint venture with GUSS Automation LLC, a California-based company that is a pioneer in semiautonomous orchard and vineyard sprayers. GUSS stands for Global Unmanned Spray System. Multiple GUSS sprayers can be remotely supervised by a single operator, allowing growers to spray orchards and vineyards more quickly and consistently, using fewer resources and reducing costs by eliminating operator error and downtime. "As demand for high-value crops grows, we see significant opportunities to help growers be more productive while addressing the challenges of increasing labor costs and finding skilled labor to operate equipment," said Chris Davison, director of Small Tractor & HVC Production Systems with Deere. The three primary high-value crop categories include bedded crops (vegetables and melons), vineyards (grapes and other berries) and orchard crops (almonds, citrus, olives, apples). Through the joint venture, Deere will help GUSS further collaborate with the Deere sales channel and GUSS will continue its innovation and product development to best serve customers, Davison said. Des Moines-based investment bank NCP Inc. advised GUSS Automation in the joint venture transaction.