Managing Moisture on the Ballfield
o one wants to delay ballgames because of improperly managed ballfields. Learn more about moisture management to keep your fields safe and in good condition.
Q: How can we ensure our infield has the right amount of moisture?
A: Everyone knows the drawback of too much moisture in the ballfield, but not having enough moisture in your infield mix can also be a problem. When your infield mix is properly balanced, it is easier to groom, provides consistent footing and allows for safer sliding and better ball hops. When you don't maintain moisture properly, the field can be unsafe, too dusty, or hardened and cracked.
Many field managers rely on mother nature to maintain the moisture in their infield mix, but to ensure a safe and consistent surface, you might need to water the infield. Begin early in the day, as you might need to water heavily, and it takes time for the water to migrate deeply into the infield soil.
You also should consider incorporating a calcined clay soil conditioner, which effectively absorbs moisture and slowly releases it back into the field as needed.
Don't forget to pay special attention to the pitcher's mound and batter's boxes. These areas are constructed with heavy packing clay and need to be kept moist to prevent cracking. Ideally, you should cover these areas after a light watering, which will help maintain moisture. If you can't manage that, consider adding a coating of infield conditioner to help maintain moisture.
Q: What should we do about problem areas and puddles?
A: Surface drainage is critical if you want your field to be playable. Getting it right from the beginning might involve hiring a qualified sports field contractor who knows exactly how to grade your field to provide optimum playing conditions.
In addition to proper grading from the start, daily maintenance practices will help prevent low spots. Incorporating a calcined clay soil conditioner into the top four inches of your field will help pull moisture from the surface and promote healthy drainage. If you do end up with low spots that cause puddles, you need to add infield mix and level the area, then tamp or roll the area to match the firmness of the surrounding soil. If puddles persist, you first need to try to remove as much water as possible to prevent the area from becoming saturated. Then, pouring a calcined clay drying agent will help wick up moisture and quickly return your field to a safe, playable surface.
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