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HabiTerre Co-Founder Guan Honored as Innovator of the Year

Dr. Kaiyu Guan, co-founder of HabiTerre and the Blue Waters associate professor in ecohydrology and remote sensing, was honored as the Illinois Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year in the Computing & Data category.

The awards recognize individuals from the IIN’s 15 hubs who have made key advances in research, technology commercialization, and education.

The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) announced recipients of its second-annual innovation awards Wednesday at the Illinois State Fair’s Tech Prairie STEAM Expo.

The awards were presented to faculty, staff or scientists from IIN hubs in four of the IIN’s key subject areas: computing and data, environment and water, food and agriculture, and health and wellness. The IIN also presented awards for an open category of innovation and to a student innovator from IIN hubs.

Photo of 2022 IIN Innovator of the Year Awardees
Kaiyu Guan (second from left) with other winners of the 2022 IIN Innovator of the Year awards. University of Illinois System photo

“It is our honor to celebrate these innovators and their discoveries,” said Jay Walsh, vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois System, which coordinates the IIN. “They all are shining examples of the fantastic research and discovery happening across our state.”

About Dr. Guan & HabiTerre’s Technology

Dr. Guan developed the technology to observe and measure land and water resources for every farm on the planet, which powers HabiTerre. Data streams from satellites, airplanes, automobiles, and ground sensor networks are integrated to create a comprehensive view of farmland. Those data streams are processed with the company’s fusion algorithms, which eliminate gaps in the data and remove the effects of clouds, and have been verified with actual “ground truth” information, creating a quantitative analysis of individual fields at a 30-meter (100-foot) resolution and at a daily frequency, recording the past 20+ years. Scientific models and proprietary algorithms are then applied to evaluate crop growth conditions, water use, biochemical status, and management practices.

Starting with a well-established scientific model for simulating entire agriculture ecosystems, HabiTerre added proprietary improvements that incorporate hundreds of variables above and below ground, then it constrained the model with actual observations, creating a reliable, realistic, and holistic view of each farm. This effort has created the most advanced model for crop growth, carbon cycles, and nutrient dynamics.

Using AI and advanced mathematical tools to combine the data and model, HabiTerre has created the first real forecasting capabilities for agroecosystems. HabiTerre can directly see how different components of carbon, water, and nutrients change during the growth season and how they are impacted by farming practices. Additionally, the company can create simulations that make it possible to predict the outcomes of various changes, from switching crop varieties and management practices to assessing the impacts of climate change. With the aid of supercomputers and cloud computing, they can process millions of farm-level simulations simultaneously, achieving field-level accuracy over large geographic areas.

The HabiTerre team is extremely proud of Dr. Guan and his recognition as Innovator of the Year. Congratulations!

For more information on the IIN innovation awards and other honorees, visit the University of Illinois news.

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