Membrane Facilitated Subsurface Drip Irrigation

Centre researchers demonstrated that a subsurface drip irrigation line manufactured from a commercially available reverse osmosis membrane was capable of providing sufficient water for the cultivation of tomato plants on brackish water while preventing the accumulation of salts in the soil. These preliminary experiments demonstrated that brackish and saline groundwater that would normally be unsuitable for use in irrigation systems for the cultivation of food crops can be used to grow plants, such as tomatoes without allowing the build up of salts in the soil. In these experiments, the plants grew by creating suction in the root zone (sub-surface) which provided sufficient force to draw water across the reverse osmosis membrane, however, the RO membrane prevented the transport of salts which can damage the soil.

The membrane technology, developed by Professor Leslie and the University of Sydney’s Professor Bruce Sutton, has been patented by UNSW commercial arm, NewSouth Innovations and commercialization partners are being sought.


Research Team:  Greg Leslie
                              Bruce Sutton
                              Valeria Almeida Lima 

Patents: Leslie, G. L. and Sutton, B. G, Reverse Osmosis Irrigation WO 2009/105808;

                Leslie, G. L., Sutton, B. G and Antony, A. A Plant Watering Device PCT 2012/85574