SportsTurf

June 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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FIELD SCIENCE 18 SportsTurf | June 2017 www.sportsturfonline.com spots on the field. Doing this may get today's game in, but it also makes those low spots even deeper and causes a bigger problem the next time it rains. I've also seen people push or rake the mud out from the skin area and into the grass areas. First of all, if the field is too wet either saturated or has puddles, leave it alone and cancel the game. No team's game is more important than the next, so there is no sense trying to get a game in if it harm's the field or makes more work for the next team's coaches or volunteers. The simplest and most logical solution to the wet field with low spot puddle problems is to not allow the low spots to form in the first place. Following games and even practices, teams should rake the usual low areas, around the mound, the batter's box and around the bases. Raking these areas to keep them reasonably level would take no more than 5-10 minutes following games or practice. Involving the players in this would also give them a sense of ownership of the field and help teach them responsibility. Investing in a cheap vinyl tarp weighted down with something like sandbags and covering the plate and mound areas can keep those areas reasonably dry. If the budget allows it might be good to buy some infield conditioner or a drying agent to help dry smaller puddles. However, the best solution for low spots is the old ounce of prevention adage and rake the low spots level following each field usage. Keith Lehman, Pine Grove Area (PA) SD: Concerning low areas I would first try and correct the practices that have created them. If the infield mix area was laser graded during construction the low area has probably been created by using the same drag pattern over a lengthy period of time; I have also created them often by being too aggressive when opening the mix to allow for game day drying. The aggressive opening loosens mix that can more easily be moved. Being the head baseball coach, I sometimes forget what hat I have on when prepping our field for games, which usually creates a future headache for the groundskeeper. To repair a low area first I will try and determine if an excessive high area is close by and I will open that area manually or with equipment and gather and deposit the loose mix in the low spot. If this process isn't possible I will mark the area after a rain and when dry I will add mix from my stockpile. Whichever process I use I try and level to the best of my ability, tamp or roll (even with equipment tires) and then give a good soaking overnight. What skin conditioning product and/or maintenance practice do you recommend if your skin is getting too hard mid-season? Jonas: I seem to never have a problem with my fields getting too hard during the season as I used to in the past, (if anything they're way too soft), but due to the fact that we have smaller kids playing on the fields, that works toward our advantage. That wasn't always the case, I had to add calcined clay to the fields, and learn the art of moisture management of the clay. Of the four game fields I manage, we have quick couplers so we can fairly easily add the water that we need to. Presnell: We keep a topcoat on the clay during the season. Moisture is the key to keeping your clay from getting to hard. You have to find the perfect amount so it'll stay firm but not to hard. You've gotta maintain the moisture through the entire skin profile. If you're still to hard you can always nail drag the clay. Lehman: Moisture is the key; if the moisture does not come naturally and a water source is not available at the field I feel it is that important to exhaust any other options that are possible, starting with the local fire department. Knowing the composition of your mix and if there is any available money a calcined clay product to help retain some moisture could be incorporated into the top 1 inch of mix. Anderson: On low maintenance fields, it is probably better to use the less expensive infield mixes; they have a higher percentage of sand to clay and this helps the field drain better following a rain. However, during the hotter and drier times of the summer these fields too, will become hard and compacted. Continuous mat dragging of the field can add to the compaction problem, so it is good to occasionally use something to scarify the field to a depth of about a ½ inch or so. If the budget allows its always good to incorporate an infield conditioner to help alleviate compaction. This material can be worked into the top ½ inch or so of the infield mix. Infield conditioner is either of a vitrified or calcined clay material and will help manage moisture, relieve compaction and help make the field safer and more playable. Siegel: During the season when the team is gone, we sweep all product out of low areas. I will flood it overnight then till first thing in the morning. After that we will work in fresh infield mix and till, smooth, pack and flood. During the summer we don't get as much down time to repair. We will if we can but August is usually time for a major skin grade/renovation. Barr: I volunteer for 3 youth leagues in my area and this is always an issue as many fields do not have water nearby. I believe moisture is the key. If you have access to a water hose, I suggest you wet the dirt area down completely late in the day and let it dry overnight. In the morning lightly moisten the dirt area in preparation for dragging. Then spike drag slowly, lightly scratching the dirt. Next drag the field with a steel metal drag mat. When finished lightly moisten the dirt area once again. In fact last year we were so desperate for water on our field we used a spray tank cleaner and neutralizer to clean our 50-gallon spray tank. We then filled it with water and used this to moisten the dirt area. It worked. Where there is a will there is a way. If you practice or play on soft infields, you must rake the low areas after so they don't get worse. — Dave Anderson Continued from page 16

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