About Field Sites
The Blandy Experimental Farm (BLAN) is a terrestrial NEON field site located in Clarke County, Virginia, approximately 60 miles west of Washington, D.C. BLAN is subdivided between two locations, with 2.7 km2 (667 acres) at Blandy Experimental Farm and 3 km2 (741 acres) at Casey Tree Farm. The site includes a mix of land use types including woodland, hay fields, and tree nurseries. The surrounding region is characterized by general land use types including successional fields, pastures, woodlands, and small ponds. This site is located within NEON's Mid-Atlantic Domain (D02), a densely populated region bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and stretching down the Eastern Seaboard from southern New Jersey to northern Georgia. The Mid-Atlantic Domain includes two other terrestrial sites and two aquatic sites. BLAN is located near the Lewis Run aquatic site. 
The climate here is temperate and humid, with annual mean temperatures of 12.1°C (53 °F). The coldest month of the year is January with an average temperature of -1.8°C (28.76°F), while July is the warmest month with an average temperature of 23.3°C (73.9°F). On average, this location gets an average of 982 mm (38.6 in.) of precipitation annually. May is the wettest month with an average monthly precipitation of 114.3 mm (4.5 in.) and February is the driest with only 63.5 mm (2.5 in.) of precipitation.  
The Blandy Experimental Farm consists of limestone and dolostone of the Conocoheague Formation, while the Casey Tree Farm consists of limestone, dolostone, and shale. [2-4]
Soils are deep and well-drained with varying amounts of rock fragments. In general, Blandy and Casey Tree Farm soils lack organic horizons, though they are considered moderately to highly fertile. The elevated soil pH present across these sites presents an environment rich in biological activity. Soil types are predominantly Poplimento and Thurmont formed from shale, limestone, siltstone, and sandstone residual. The soil subgroup at the site are Ultic Hapludalfs. 
Groundwater aquifers are recharged by precipitation, which percolates through fractures in carbonate rock and is sometimes facilitated by geologic structures such as sinkholes or sinking streams. This water is eventually discharged to streams in the form of spring discharge. 
The Blandy Experimental Farm is predominantly a fallow scrubland consisting primarily of hay crops and goldenrod (Solidago altissima), though the site is surrounded by fragmented secondary forests and successional shrubs. Casey Tree Farm, as the name suggests, is a tree nursery with hay fields encompassed by deciduous woodlands of black oak (Quercus velutina), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and pawpaw (Asimina triloba). NEON plots are distributed throughout Deciduous Forest and Pasture Hay NLCD classes, and these monitor and provide presence and absence data for over 100 plant species, including goldenrod (Solidago altissima), buckthorn (Rhamnus davurica), and Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii).  
Clarke County, Virginia is home to black bear (Ursus americanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), coyote (Canis latrans), eastern gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteneus), and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) populations, among many small mammals. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are present, though in smaller numbers than surrounding counties. 
Past Land Management and Use
The Blandy Experimental Farm property was bequeathed to the University of Virginia in 1926 by the widow of New York broker and railroad tycoon Graham F. Blandy. Blandy's 900-acre property supported orchards and grazing lands. Commercial farming operations continued under the management of University of Virginia until 1976, when the University's focus shifted to environmental research and establishment of the land as a community resource. Although agricultural research has never been a focus at this site, its location within the primarily agricultural Shenandoah valley has encouraged research projects focusing on plant, insect, avian, and mammalian biology across forest and field habitats at Blandy.
The Casey Tree Farm property was originally part of a 5-million-acre tract of land owned and managed by Lord Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord of Fairfax from Cameron, from 1719 until its confiscation in 1781 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Land use was primarily agricultural. Ownership of this land passed to Eugene Casey in 1958, and his widow, Betty Brown Casey, donated it to Casey Tree Farm (known locally as Springsbury Farm) in 2008. A tree nursery was established in 2011 for agroforestry research and production of trees for export to the canopy of Washington, D.C.   
Current Land Management and Use
The University of Virginia manages the Blandy Experimental Farm as an ecological field station centered around their mission to increase understanding of the natural environment through research and education. Ongoing research includes bumblebee foraging patterns, population structures of aquatic turtles, and ecological consequences of human activities. Blandy encompasses 2.88 km2 (712 acres), part of which has been incorporated into the State Arboretum of Virginia (0.7 km2/172 acres). The Arboretum features over 5000 woody trees and shrubs from around the world; volunteers continue to plant species such as tulip poplar, white oak, eastern red oak, redbud, pawpaw, black cherry, red maple, and serviceberry. The Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia (FOSA) is responsible for sustaining the Arboretum's collections, fundraising and supporting Blandy's research and educational goals.
The Casey Tree Farm manages 730 acres of land as a tree nursery for species not readily available commercially. Their mission is to restore, enhance, and protect the tree canopy of the nation's capital through research, collaboration, and environmental stewardship. Casey Tree Farm reaches this goal primarily through monitoring Washington, D.C.'s tree canopy and engaging the public in tree plantings and educational courses. This property is also home to several structures of historical importance from the late 1700s. [10-15]
NEON Site Establishment
The Domain 02 support facility in Front Royal, VA was constructed in December 2014. NEON plot establishment at BLAN was completed in May 2015. The site transitioned to operations in July 2015, when terrestrial observational sampling began. The site's 8 m (26.25 ft.) tower was not fully completed until September 2016.
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 02. NEON.DOC.003886vB
U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/.
 Michael SanClements, Robert H Lee, E D Ayres, Keli Goodman, Morgan Jones, David Durden, Katherine Thibault, Rommel Zulueta, Joshua Roberti, Claire Lunch, Adrian Gallo, Collaborating with NEON, BioScience, Volume 70, Issue 2, February 2020, Page 107,https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biaa005.
 McDevitt Jr., M.P. (2018) NEON site-level plot summary Blandy Experimental Farm. USDA. https://data.neonscience.org/documents/10179/2361410/BLAN_Soil_SiteSumm…
 Nelms, D. L., & Moberg Jr., R. M. (2005). Hydrogeology and groundwater availability in Clarke County, VA: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5112. 119 p. https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5112/pdf/sir20105112.pdf.
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 02 NEON.DOC.011045vB
 [Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.](https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/)
 Bowers, M. A. (1997). University of Virginia's Blandy Experimental Farm. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 78(3), 220-225.
 [Virtual Tour through the History of Blandy Experimental Farm](http://blandy.virginia.edu/arboretum/blandy-history-intro)
 [Casey Tree Farm: About Us](https://caseytrees.org/about-us/casey-tree-farm/)
 [UVA Blandy Experimental Farm: Mission and Community Impact](http://blandy.virginia.edu/home/mission-and-community-impact)
 [Blandy Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program](http://sites.google.com/site/blandyreu/mentors-and-research-areas)
 PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004.
 [UVA Blandy Experimental Farm: Arboretum](http://blandy.virginia.edu/arboretum)
 [UVA Blandy Experimental Farm: Our Foundation](http://blandy.virginia.edu/our-foundation)
 [Casey Tree Farm: History of the Property](https://caseytrees.org/about-us/casey-tree-farm)
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a flux/meteorological tower that is 8 m (26 ft) tall with four measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data are collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, solar radiation, and throughfall are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
Field Site Data
University of Virginia
Site Access Allowed
Yes (Tower and TIS)
Site Access Details
Research activity at the NEON tower area via University of Virginia
NEON Field Operations Office
NEON Field Operations Address
1500 Remount Road
MRC 5560, Bldg 90
Front Royal, VA 22630
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Deciduous Forest, Pasture/Hay
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
USGS Geology Unit
USGS Geology Name
USGS Lithologic Constituents
Dominantly limestone with significant dolostone and sandstone beds
USGS Geology Age
Cambrian to Ordovician
Megapit Soil Family
Fine, mixed, subactive, mesic. Ultic Hapludalfs.
Other Domain D02 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in VA