In chapter six of the novel, the character, Mr. Winter describes solving a logistical problem concerning watering two, 1/2 acre fields weekly, with a primitive nitrogen solution that must be mixed on the fly (as he has no storage capacity to hold a volume of solution that is the equivalent of a few inches of rain per month, for the size of these fields). He decides to pump water from the River Compton below the field, up to two small pools he’s constructed for each, which hold enough volume that 1/7th of each field may be watered each day. His nitrogen salt is added to these pools when they are full, and a set of young farm hands dip tin watering cans into the pools and run up and down the fields with these until the day’s area is covered.
Yet in 1821, in his particular area of the country, a small mechanical pump running on steam was probably not practical, both because of economic reasons, and because such would destroy the peacefulness of the countryside which Mr. Winter (and his fellow residents) so cherished. His solution was therefore a spiral water pump similar to the pictures shown below. The technology is derived from ancient times, but Mr. Winter, being an engineer who specializes in the improvement of machines, comes up with something quite similar: