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Bulletin - Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Volume no.379-398) online

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This classification does not permit a consecutive numbering of land
t^^pes with respect to their agricultural value — a type of classification or
rating often requested, and one that would have obvious advantages. A
land type or soil type is poor, good, better, or best, onh- with reference
to a particular use, characteristic, or condition. For example, that which
is naturally good for vegetable growing may be poor for dairy farming,
or for forestry or recreational purposes; and first-class land for dairy
farming is valueless for cranberry growing. This classification does, how-
ever, permit some comparative evaluation of land types within the groups,
and this has been pointed out where it is well defined. Upland soils free
of, or low in, stones are the best of that group for general farming and
dairying, and the nearh- level outwash soils of medium texture (Bl) are
the best for market gardening.

Finally, it is to be pointed out and emphasized that this classification
is based on natural land characteristics. In its practical application it
must be used in connection with other factors afifecting land use, par-
ticularly economic and social factors. Unique advantages of location, for
example, may outweigh certain natural limitations. Land poorly adapted
to a given crop because of low fertility and poor water-holding capacity,
may be made productive by the use of large amounts of commercial ferti-
lizers and the use of irrigation water. All such factors must be taken
into consideration in determining the best use of a given piece of land.

This classification and its interpretation have emphasized use of land
for agriculture or forestry; but in a state such as Massachusetts, urban,
industrial, and recreational uses assume great importance and cannot be
ignored. Much of the non-agricultural group and the poorer types of
the A and B groups are highly valuable for such uses. Some fine resi-
dential sections are located on rough stony land, and this type is ex-
cellent for certain kinds of recreation. Most of the gravel pits of the State


are found in the Hinckley soils of the B3 group. Unfortunately, due ir
some cases to poor planning or in most cases to lack of planning, a con-
siderable amount of good agricultural land has been taken for urban and
industrial uses. Some readjustments in use may be possible; future plan-
ning should take more cognizance of natural adaptability.


Data on certain natural characteristics of land important in determining
its use were collected from 48 soil types in 17 series on 13,211 acres. Soil
type, slope, stoniness, and erosion were mapped in great detail, which
permits comparisons and interpretations hitherto impossible in this area.
Slope was shown to be an important factor affecting land use in dairy
farming, but stoniness was more important. Erosion was found to be
extensive, only 3.8 percent of the area surveyed showing no erosion, but
slight erosion was by far the predominant type.

Any method of land classification which accomplishes the purpose for
which it was intended may be called good. A method of land classification
which is not so technical as to require a trained technician for its inter-
pretation or application is sought by certain groups interested in land use.
Soil type is one of the important factors determining land use, but it is
not considered the most practicable unit for this purpose. Soil types may
be grouped into natural land types for practical utility.

The classification of land into types based on natural characteristics and
for purposes of utilization is illustrated by means of the categories set up
for one county. This classification is of value especially in connection
with large-scale planning. It is based on the information given in the soil
surveys of the State and a small amount of field work. Since this classi-
fication is a natural one, it must be applied in connection with economic
and social factors.

For detailed land-use planning, as on individual farms, the technic and
classification involving land use capabilities developed by the United States
Soil Conservation Service has certain advantages. An example of the
application of the method of classifying land according to its use capa-
bilities is given.

Publication or this Document Affrovbd bt Coumission on Administration and Financb
3in-5-41 — 6327

agricultural experiment station

Bulletin No. 386 December 1941

Rural Youth
in Massachusetts

By Gilbert Meldrum and Ruth Sherburne

National concern regarding the general welfare of our population deserves
some planning, for which studies of this sort may furnish a basis.



By Gilbert Meldrum2 and Ruth E. Sherburne,
Research Assistant in Economics

Twenty years ago, in 1921, more children were born to American parents than
in any other year, before or since. Today, in 1941, those children and the others
born in the years immediately before and after 1921, are young men and women — -
the "older youth." Greater in number than ever before, they represent a sig-
nificant segment of our population ; the kind of people they are will have a profound
effect on the kind of business and industry, religion and government the country
is to have in the jears to come.

These young people were born during or just after the first World War, lived
through a great depression, and emerged as adults in the face of a second world
conflict. Their problems, their needs, and their opportunities are to a large
extent the responsibiUty of young and old alike. Rural policy committees in
Massachusetts, as in several other States, have recognized this responsibility
and accepted its challenge. They realize that a well-rounded and continuing
program for the welfare of rural people should include plans for rural youth.

The study described in this report was made at the request of these rural policy
committees and had two purposes: (1) To gather and analyze information on the
resources, the problems, and the opportunities of rural >outh in Massachusetts;
(2) to create interest among the young people themselves to furnish assistance
in the recognition and solution of their problems.

To do these things efifectively, the work was planned so that rural young people
would have a part in it from the beginning. Most of the field work was done by
\olunteers in the 4-H Service Clubs. In selected rural towns in four counties,
the field workers made a house-to-house survey in an attempt to interview all
boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 25. In addition, boys enrolled in voca-
tional agriculture schools and girls taking vocational agriculture and home eco-
nomics courses in these counties were interviewed. In all, nearly 600 question-
naires were filled out.

The general plan for this project and guidance in the collection and analysis of the data were
provided by Dr. David Rozman, Research Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Agricultural
Experiment Station; and by Dr. O. E. Baker, Walter C. McKain and C. R. Draper of the Bureau
of Agricultural Economics, United States Department of Agriculture. Grateful acknowledgment
is made to individuals in the Massachusetts Extension Service for their assistance in the study,
and to the young people in various towns lor their enthusiastic participation in the field work.

''junior Sociologist, Division of Farm Population and Rural ^^'elfare, Bureau of Agricultural
Economics. United States Department of Agriculture.


The Problems of Rural Youth

In order to discover the most important needs of the \ oung people, interviewers
asked each to select from a list of 13 personal problems the two that he or she
found most pressing. Their answers are summarized in figure 1.

Economic problems were listed most frequently b\" the boys. Two out of
every five responses had to do with making a living, finding a job, or getting
started in farming. One-fourth of the problems listed by the girls also had to do
with economic welfare. For the total group of young people economic problems
outweighed any other.

Next in importance was the need for more education and for vocational guid-
ance. One-fourth of the problems of the boys and girls had to do with education.
This emphasis upon economic and educational problems reflects a seriousness not
generally attributed to joung people. But it must be remembered that the last
depression struck these young people at an impressionable age. The sobering
effect of the depression years is indicated in their present attitudes.

Figure 1







* r^

1 f^ r^

' s and girls listened to the radio at least once a week, and 3 out
of 7 attended more than one "movie" a week.

Some differences were found between forms of recreation enjo>ed by those in
school and those out of school. In general, the in-school youth patronized the
more informal leisure activities such as reading, riding, engaging in hobbies,
participating in sports, and dancing. Out-of-school youths depended more upon
the commercialized forms of recreation : moving pictures, public dances, bowling,
and roller-skating.

One in 10 of the youths did not belong to an}- organization. Most young people
belonged to one or two organizations, and the girls had, on the average, a wider
membership than the boys. Church, Sunday School, and young people's church
groups were listed most frequently, and yet one out of four boys, and one out of
seven girls reported having taken no part in church groups during the last year.
All other organizations together were not attended by more than one-half the
boys or two-fifths of the girls.

The out-of-school group was apparenth' not being reached either by religious
or by secular organizations. This would seem to indicate that if social groups,
in the churches or out of them, are to continue to attract young people, programs
must be developed that will interest the older group of young folks.

The Organizational Needs of Rural Youth

Apparently these young people felt the lack of programs especially adapted
to their needs. A fourth of them said there was no organization in their com-
munity that had a program for young people. Among the replies of those who
thought otherwise, the 4-H Club, the Grange, and the churches were mentioned
(in that order) most frequently.

A program which would attempt to meet more fully the needs of older rural
youth was thus definitely indicated, but opinion was divided as to whether there
should be a completely new organization. Just half of the group wanted such
an organization, slightly more than a third did not feel the need of any, and the


others were undecided. The girls, particularly the out-of-school girls, felt the
need of a new organization most strongly.

To the question as to what types of new programs the}' would like to participate
in, the answers showed that purely "social" activities, including dancing, were
not thought to be important. Only 7 percent of the responses were concerned
with this type of social program. Economic interests, on the other hand, received
by far the most attention, and after these in importance came programs con-
centrating on the improvement of personality. Evidently the young people
wanted a type of social organization which would help them to overcome their
problems — and their problems are principally economic.


The specific needs of these youths vary to some extent in the different towns,
so that definite recommendations will depend on facilities already available in
the local community. The young people themselves are in the best position to
determine the application of programs designed to meet their needs. A program
which would enlist their support in this way would go a long way toward filling
one of their most basic needs— the opportunity to gain recognition and a sense
of their own importance.

More vocational training is wanted by these young people. Repercussions
of the National Defense Program have shown vividly that this is more than a
personal need. An expanded vocational training program for rural youth is

Present social organizations are not satisfying the needs of the older rural
youths. The 4-H Service Club or the Grange might be expanded to meet these
requirements. Any organization trying to meet the needs of this group should
offer a program designed to help young people in the solution of their economic
and vocational problems. In the past too much attention has been given to

Adequate placement service is lacking for rural young people. The study has
shown plainly the need for more adequate means of finding employment oppor-
tunities and allocating individuals to them. It might be desirable for high-
school teachers to discuss public and private employment services in their classes.

It must be recognized that the needs of the young people are interrelated, so
that one need can not be touched without influencing others. For example,

Online LibraryMassachusetts Agricultural Experiment StationBulletin - Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Volume no.379-398) → online text (page 22 of 77)