The King Farm is a site on the Domain off Brakefield Road with a rich agricultural history. It was occupied by Native Americans and is thought to have been the site of a hotel on a stagecoach route. In the early 1900s, the land was farmed for crops and hogs by a freed slave, Rufus Moseley. The farm was taken over by the King family in the 1930s and abandoned by 1950. The land was then planted with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations by Charles Cheston and has not been disturbed in the intervening years.
As a result of agricultural activities, including tree clearing, tree planting, and soil liming, the woody plant composition of the King Farm is very different from the surrounding forest. Most of the loblolly pines that were planted have died as a result of pine bark beetle outbreaks.
In 2009, students conducted vegetation surveys at locations in the King Farm with different land use and in control plots outside of the King Farm. In 2013, Ashley Block (C’13) analyzed this data for her honors thesis examining the effect of agricultural legacies on forest composition. Unsurprisingly, she found that the plots inside the King Farm were very different than the surrounding forest.
Ashley is currently a PhD student in Integrative Conservation and Anthropology at the University of Georgia, and she returned this summer to resample these plots. Dr. Evans, Callie Oldfield, Katie Kull, and Kimberly Williams worked with Ashley to identify species in plots which she will use to make comparisons between the 2009 and 2016 sampling events.
We just finished this field work on Tuesday, and we will take soil samples from the plots in the coming weeks.