Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agriculture and Extension Education

Major Professor

Robert S. Dotson

Committee Members

Cecil E. Carter, Joe Alexander


Soil surveys are used intensively by employees of the Soil Conservation Service. Traditionally, they form the basis on which farm conservation plans are constructed. More recently community, watershed, river basin, urban, and city plans are being based on information included in the surveys concerning the suitability or limitation of soils for these non-agricultural uses. A Supplement to the Soil Survey written in 1963 classified Putnam County soils for non-agricultural uses.

This study, then, was undertaken: (1) to determine the extent to which homeowners of Putnam County had used the Putnam Soil Survey in 1962-63 and 1968-69 to locate sites for septic tanks, and (2) to ascertain the extent of the use of the Putnam Soil Survey and supplement by other potential users. Those homeowners inside and outside the Cookeville city limits were compared as were those in the various septic tank sewage system soil limitation categories.

It was hoped that this study would serve to point out deficiencies in the present methods of training potential users of soil surveys in their use and lead to improvement in this area. About 50 percent responses were received to mail questionnaires sent to 140 Cookeville residents in 1962-63, 301 homeowners outside Cookeville in 1962-63, 238 Cookeville residents buying homes in 1968-69 and 994 homeowners purchasing home construction sites outside the city limits in 1968-69. Also, 26 other potential users of the Putnam County Soil Survey and Supplement were interviewed and records of the approval sheets of the area Federal Housing Administration (FHA) were studied.

Major findings included the following: (1) fewer homeowners buying in the 1962-63 home construction period were aware of the need to consider the importance of soil characteristics before purchase than was true in 1968-69; (2) more homeowners from outside Cookeville city were aware and had used their knowledge of the importance of soil characteristics before purchase than was true for Cookeville city residents; (3) more homeowners on home construction sites having only slight limitations for septic tank sewage systems were better informed regarding the importance of soil characteristics; (4) since only 10 percent of the homeowners reported receiving information from the Survey and/or Supplement in this regard, and "hearsay" was most frequently declared the main source, indirect influences were credited as having the main impact as a source; (5) all 26 other potential Survey users reported access to the document and were using it though somewhat less than desired; (6) while most potential users had access to the Supplement, few reported using it to any degree, and (7) F.H.A. records indicated disapproval of increasingly large numbers of homes or lots in the area where construction sites were identified as "severe" or "moderate" limitation situations for septic tank sewer systems,

Implications were made and recommendations for use of findings and for further research were suggested.

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