Stop B

Swamps, Marshes, and Muck

January 10, 2022

At the last stop we learned that this area was included in the swamp act – but we have also described it as a marsh. What’s the difference between a swamp and a marsh? Well, both swamps and marshes are low-lying areas that are often covered in water or are persistently wet just below the surface. Other terms that describe areas like this include wetland, bog, or fen. While these are all quite similar, a swamp has deeper standing water and often supports trees, while marsh soil supports plants and grasses. For most of us, the terms are often used interchangeably. Can you think of any other names for areas like these?

With all the water present, the soil in these areas – known as muck – is different than other soils. Because of this, researchers wanted to learn about how to farm in these special muck soils.

So, before becoming an ecological research center, this marsh was a research farm for many years– known as the MSU Muck Soil Research Farm, or, more commonly, The Muck Farm.

Most of the farming research took place in plots just down this path. We’ll head there next to learn a bit more about the farm and see what it looks like today.