Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Leonard Durham


Between June, 1970 and July, 1971 a two square mile area in East Central Illinois served as a study area for the effects of the oil industry on farm land. Observations were made on several farms concerning the activity of oil companies and interviews with farmers were held. Two areas of farmland were given special attention. One was a clover field where salt water had flooded a portion of the field. The other area was a corn field where oil had flooded approximately eight acres of land. Random samples of invertebrates were taken in both of these areas as well as in control portions of the fields. Soil analyses were also made to determine organic material present, sodium soil test value, and soluble salt in both areas.

In the area where oil had been spilled the organic material present was higher according to soil analysis. The salt content was also higher because oil and salt water are produced simultaneously. In the area where salt water flooded the ground the sodium salt test value and the soluble salt figures increased tremendously.

Oil itself is not toxic. However, in soil it prevents plants from obtaining sufficient moisture and air for growth. Oil, though, was found to be less dangerous as a pollutant than salt water. It can be decomposed by fungi and bacteria whereas salt remains in the soil and has a plasmolyzing effect on plants. Both types of pollution disrupt natural food chains because in either case the primary producers are not present.

The economic effect of the oil industry in the farm area is also discussed with special reference made to areas which farmers cannot use because of the presence of oil industry equipment. The oil industry has another effect on the farmers because many of the farms' drainage systems are disrupted due to the activities of the oil industry.