FRESNO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In recognition of his pioneering efforts and contributions to the adaptation of drip irrigation technology in the western United States, Howard Wuertz of Coolidge, Arizona-based Sundance Farms has been named the recipient of the third annual Netafim Award for Advancement in Microirrigation.
Presented by drip irrigation leader, Netafim, in partnership with the ASABE, the annual award honors and recognizes an ASABE member who has made significant contributions toward the utilization and adaptation of microirrigation technology at any given level of production.
Often referred to as the “father of subsurface drip irrigation” in America, Wuertz is a managing partner of Sundance Farms where he works as a consultant for farming operations on the 3,200-acre farm. During Wuertz’s long career, he pioneered the use of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), first developing it for cotton irrigation and later for use with row crops. From early on, Wuertz developed a pragmatic “systems approach” to subsurface drip irrigation.
“We realized a long time ago that successful farming in the dry Arizona desert is not only about using water more efficiently, but about being more productive with the resources we have. Subsurface drip irrigation has allowed us to boost our productivity per acre with less water than traditional irrigation methods,” said Wuertz. “It is a great honor to be recognized by Netafim and industry peers for the steps we have made at Sundance Farms to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. We aim to generate awareness of the many benefits that SDI delivers and in doing so, encourage growers in Arizona, and nationwide, to take measures to ensure the sustainability of their farming operations for many generations to come.”
In addition to reducing his on-farm water use by up to 50%, increasing yields and improving the quality of the region’s marginal soils, Wuertz quickly realized that subsurface drip irrigation also necessitated the development of special machinery for minimum tillage. In response, he developed several implements for cotton stalk destruction, drip tubing installation and tillage operations, resulting in five patents being issued in his name. These new implements made it possible for driplines to be installed and used for many years and for a broad range of crops to be grown on a permanently buried dripline, eliminating the need and associated cost of annual removal and replacement of the dripline.
“Necessity is the mother of invention, and there may be no better example of recognizing and adapting to environmental challenges than Howard Wuertz,” said Ze’ev Barylka, Marketing Director for Netafim USA. “We are inspired by his commitment to sustainable farming in a region with a harsh and often unforgiving climate. His approach to overcoming barriers goes hand-in-hand with the philosophy upon which Netafim was founded over 50 years ago. Howard is a perfect fit for this award.”
Throughout his career, Wuertz has generously shared his knowledge with other farmers and engineers, and still hosts many visitors from all over the world at Sundance Farms. Governor Bruce Babbitt sought out Wuertz’s expertise on water conservation and invited him to join a committee that developed a plan for conserving water that led to the development of the Groundwater Management Act. For many years, he worked in the Farm Credit System and has been actively involved in the local, state, and federal levels on conservation and resource issues in agriculture.
The ASABE is an international educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to biological, food and agricultural systems. Founded in 1907, ASABE members reside and work in more than 100 countries. The Society also serves 1,200 pre-professional members in 80 university chapters across the United States and Canada.
ABOUT NETAFIM USA
Netafim USA, based in Fresno, Calif., develops and manufactures drip irrigation systems for agriculture, landscape & turf, greenhouse & nursery, mining and wastewater. Netafim offers an extensive range of irrigation solutions including driplines, filters, sprinklers, valves, water meters and automation equipment for complete dripline system installations. For more information go to www.netafimusa.com.