Word of the Week (102): ZANJA (probability 11201), by David Sutton

A ZANJA is an irrigation canal in Latin America; the word is Spanish. A man who looks after a ZANJA is a ZANJERO.

There are quite a few words for irrigation channels, perhaps not surprisingly perhaps given their importance in those parts of the world not blessed with the pluvial plenty of the British Isles. An ACEQUIA is another Spanish word for an irrigation ditch. A FALAJ (plural AFLAJ) is an Arabic word for an irrigation channel, especially in Oman. Arabic also gives us QANAT, an underground tunnel for carrying irrigation water: QANATS were developed in ancient Persia in about 800 BCE, and are among the oldest known irrigation methods still in use today.

An ANICUT or ANNICUT is a dam or mole made in the course of a stream for regulating the flow of a system of irrigation. A SHADUF or SHADOOF is a machine, resembling a well sweep, used in Egypt for raising water from the Nile for irrigation. And a NORIA is a kind of water wheel with clay pots around the rim powered by the flow of the stream (or by animals where the water source was still); norias were first brought into use by Roman settlers in North Africa.

In modern agriculture, irrigation is often combined with the delivery of fertilizer. This process is known as FERTIGATION, and the verb is to FERTIGATE.


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