One for the Books: Smart Apply’s Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that 2023 is drawing to a close. We started the year with big goals. Perhaps bigger than our lean agtech startup team could even dream of achieving. But lo and behold, the Smart Apply team hit its marks with excellent results! Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

Starting the Year in a New Crop Market

In early January 2023, Smart Apply’s Ryan Kuch was invited to speak to the Hop Growers of America, a trade association in Washington State. Washington is the world’s largest producer of hops. Meeting attendees were keenly interested in the Smart Apply System’s ability to decrease chemical use by an average of 50% as well as significantly reduce airborne drift and run off. Hops are a major export product for the United States. Most international markets have strict MRLs (maximum residue limits) and hop growers saw the Smart Apply System, with its precision spraying and digital documentation of all spray events, as a potentially invaluable tool.

Ryan’s presentation was attended by Smart Apply authorized dealers Pape Ag & Turf and RDO, who helped field questions from the hop growers in attendance. The meeting was a big success with double-digit sales of Smart Apply Systems. Hops have emerged as a top market for Smart Apply as the system’s capabilities mesh perfectly with the unique needs of this fast-growing crop.

Added Nearly 100 Dealer Locations

Adding to our authorized Smart Apply dealer network to extend our footprint around the world was a major goal in 2023. Focus was placed on dealerships that serve specialty crop growers and are committed to Precision Agriculture technology. CEO Jerry Johnson and our regional sales managers worked together to recruit and onboard high quality dealers. These efforts were rewarded; we added seven new dealers in the United States, Canada, and Australia with nearly 100 retail locations between them. A special thank you to Atlantic Tractor, Burrows Tractor, Green Diamond Equipment, Hutcheon & Pearce, Hutson, Messick’s Farm Equipment, and Premier Equipment for joining the Smart Apply family of authorized dealers. View all Smart Apply dealers here.

Smart Apply continues to recruit quality dealers with a passion for helping growers of specialty crops optimize crop protection, lower input costs, and protect the health of the environment through precision spraying and digital documentation of spray events.

Launched Gen 2 of the Smart Apply System

We were super excited to launch the second generation of the Smart Apply System in 2023. Gen 2 boasts a number of improvements that make the system more robust in the field and easier to install and maintain. Some examples are a sealed junction box for better weather protection and wire management, 50% fewer electrical connectors, single power harness with circuit breaker (no more fuses), expanded control board to support up to 40 spray nozzles, and a new heavy duty RuggOn Android tablet.

On the data side, Gen 2 allows the user to program a day’s spray schedule, including multiple tracts and operators; provides more intuitive operating screens with choice of language, expands data collection and reporting, documents chemicals applied, creates digital documentation of multiple data points that are viewable in real time, and increases Cloud storage for data.

Growers were very receptive to Gen 2 for its improved ruggedness and usability. Those with Gen 1 Smart Apply Systems can purchase an upgrade kit to expand functionality. More on Smart Apply Gen 2 here.

USDA Researcher Who Worked on Smart Apply Recognized with Top Engineering Award

In July, the American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers (ASABE) presented one of its most prestigious annual awards, the McCormick Case Gold Medal, to Heping Zhu, PhD, a USDA Agricultural Research Service engineer who has dedicated two decades of work to creating a new class of precision sprayer technology. Zhu’s work underpins the Smart Apply® Intelligent Spray Control System™.*

Commenting on Zhu’s selection, ASABE Executive Director Darrin Drollinger said, “One of the things that ASABE strives for is standardization and compatibility in farm equipment. That doesn’t happen by accident. What really jumps out about the Smart Apply System is the fact the technology can be retrofitted onto existing air blast sprayers that literally every grower of specialty crops owns. The affordability and immediate impact for growers is a clear example of how the profession continues to make a difference in the industry.”

Amplified Our Brand on YouTube

Some of the earliest Smart Apply System users told us that they had heard about Smart Apply on YouTube. Other than live demos, video is the best way to demonstrate the Smart Apply System’s LiDAR-powered precision spraying. So we created a Smart Apply YouTube Channel that includes professionally produced videos such as testimonials from pecan grower Tim Sikes and winemaker Pernod Ricard, our Mini GUSS integration and our newest compilation video showcasing multiple sprayer formats and crops.A number of dealers also shared videos which we added to our YouTube.

In 2024, we hope to film more grower testimonials and field days. If you know growers with good stories to tell, contact Mel at

Participated in Numerous Trade Shows and Field Demos with Dealers

This was definitely the fun part of 2023 as we got to exhibit with our dealers and personally meet grower customers. We kept the sales team busy at events for almonds, pecans, wine grapes, apples, citrus, nursery growers, and hops. A huge thank you to all of the dealers who included us in their booths. We met thousands of growers, which led to heightened awareness of Smart Apply and sales. We are launching new trade show support for 2024 to further assist our dealers.

Then the Big News: Joined the John Deere Family

In early July, Smart Apply, Inc., was acquired by John Deere. The two companies have worked together since 2020. Commenting on the acquisition in a formal statement, Mike Bailey, director, Small Tractor & HVC Production System at John Deere, called it a “natural progression of the two companies’ working relationship.

“It’s a continuation of our commitment to high-value crop customers and dealers, further expanding a portfolio of solutions to help growers address their biggest challenges around labor, input costs, and regulatory requirements, and achieve environmental goals,” Bailey said.

Smart Apply is honored to be part of the John Deere family!

Looking Ahead to 2024

As we head into the new year, the Smart Apply team is extremely optimistic about helping the world’s growers of high-value specialty crops do more with less. We look forward welcoming more dealers, more sprayer integrations, more improvements to our precision spray and data system, and above all, more relationships with growers! If you would like to share comments or suggestions with with us, email All the best in 2024!

*The technology was licensed by Smart Apply, Inc. and is now owned by the John Deere Company.

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