The Irrigation Association announced winners of the 2012 New Product Contest and recognition of people involved in the irrigation industry at the recent annual Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Orlando, Fla. Awards presented specific to the agricultural industry are noted here.

The agriculture category new products earned a lot of attention, and one of the two top winners earned the People Choice Award. Additionally, a Kansas State University Extension national leader in agricultural irrigation research received a prestigious award, too.

The product awards highlight exhibitor entries based on a wide range of criteria, including innovative and/or changed for better qualities, increased irrigation efficiency, ease of use, cost benefits, time savings and design quality. Judges chose from a record number of entries in the following categories: specialty, agriculture and turf/landscape. This was the first year for the People’s Choice Award where attendees voted for their favorite product.

The agriculture category winner was SonTek-IQ and SonTek IQ-Pipe, which comes from a division of Xylem, Inc. The SonTek-IQ series of small units placed in flowing water provide flow, total volume, level and velocity data for monitoring flows in canals, open channels, pipes and culverts. Custom flow algorithms ensure all the products in the series deliver the data needed to make smart decisions about water. Each system offers four independent velocity beams that work to accurately map the cross-section velocity and feed this data to the flow computation algorithms. Additionally, the built-in pressure sensor, works in tandem with the vertical acoustic beam to measure the water level.

Person of the Year Award is the IA’s longest-awarded honor. It recognizes a person outside of the commercial irrigation industry who has made outstanding contributions toward the acceptance of sound irrigation practices.

Freddie Lamm, Ph.D., Kansas State University, works out of the Colby, Kan., Northwest Extension Center. For more than 30 years, Lamm has made a career from agricultural irrigation research and practices. Much of his focus has been around irrigated corn production—a dominant crop in eastern Kansas. Lamm has done extensive research related to large acreage drip irrigation for commodity crops. He has authored, or co-authored, numerous articles, technical papers and nearly 300 popular press articles.

The National Water and Energy Conservation Award honors significant achievement in the conservation of water and energy relating to irrigation procedures, equipment, methods and techniques. It was presented to the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Calif.

The staff of the Palmdale Agricultural Site of the sanitation district manages a 12 million gallon-per-day capacity water treatment plant. Their work provides 100 percent treated effluent to irrigate, under center pivot, approximately 2,000 acres of agricultural crops. Management and staff has “shown the best in water management by navigating regulatory restrictions, crop rotations, nutrient loads and crop water demand to keep up with the county’s constant supply of recycled water,” the IA noted in announcing the award winner.

Honorable mention and People’s Choice Winner for the new product was Jain GeneSys from Jain Irrigation, Inc. A description of the product is unavailable. (What is extremely unusual is that no one will provide an explanation of what the product is or does. The Jain Irrigation, Inc. company website proudly announces that the product won the People’s Choice but has no link to show or describe the product. Several phone calls to the company by the IA and myself have resulted in not being connected to anyone who wants to talk or return calls.)

The IA works to improve industry proficiency, advocate sound water management and grow demand for water-efficient products and services. For more information, visit www.irrigation.org.