Howard Wuertz, a crop farmer and irrigation pioneer with Sundance Farms, Inc. in Coolidge, Ariz., has earned the Irrigation Association’s 2011 “Person of the Year” award.

Wuertz has been called the “father of subsurface drip irrigation” in America, particularly in the West. He has also developed an entire cropping system to manage soils and nutrients plus water and energy.

Wuertz holds five patents on tillage equipment used to assure that buried drip tape stays in place and undamaged. He regularly hosts international visitors to his farm to share his best practices.

The Person of the Year award is the Irrigation Association’s longest-awarded honor which recognizes a person outside of the commercial irrigation industry who has made outstanding contributions in sound irrigation practices.