Last updateTue, 02 Apr 2024 11am

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Drip irrigation regulator

CSIC has developed a drip irrigation regulator consisting of a container with a pipe inside, where water flows, and a blocker made of hydrophilic material. It enables the irrigation automatically and controls the amount of water supplied.

Picture of the drip irrigation regulatorSometimes, good solutions are not complicated but smart. A team from the Institute of Agrarian Sciences of CSIC, in Madrid, has developed a simple and effective drip irrigation regulator, which makes possible to save water. When the device detects there is enough water in the tank, it automatically stops dropping.  On the contrary, when it detects a lack of water, it resumes the dropping. It is applicable at home, especially for periods of prolonged absence, and in nurseries, public gardens or similar. Companies interested in the license of this utility model are sought.

The mechanism consists of a small container with holes, which has a flexible pipe inside through which water flows. There is also a rigid stopper and a blocker made of hydrophilic material. When using it, the regulator can be placed in the tank that receives the water for irrigation (see the image). When there is enough water, water penetrates through the holes and soaks the blocker, which, as it is made of hydrophilic material, it swells, increases its size and pushes the pipe against the stop, which blocks the flow path. When the irrigation area dries, the hydrophilic material releases the accumulated water, reduces its size and, in turn, relieves the pressure on the stopper and pipe, resuming therefore the water flow.

The regulator has an open position, in which the water flow circulates, and a closed position, in which the flow is blocked. Additionally, there may be an intermediate position, where the hydrophilic material has not reached a maximum volume and partially allows the flow to pass.

There are other drip irrigation regulators based on hydrophilic materials. However, in these cases, the hydrophilic material is placed near the dripper or blocking the area where water flows, which means that the material is exposed to a constant flow and ends up deteriorating. Additionally, a very high precision is required in the assembly for the system to work perfectly. The advantage of this new regulator is that the hydrophilic material is not in contact with the water flow.

The device enables autonomous plant watering in pots, trays, planters, seedbeds, etc. However, the duration of autonomous watering depends on the size of the tank or the water supply system, the demand of the growing plants and the environment.


Juan P. Duque
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de Transferencia del Conocimiento
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Tel.: 664 37 51 39
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