Monday, April 25, 2016

UPDATED: Depth of Infield Conditioners


Infield conditioners are a critical tool for effective infield maintenance. How deep should the conditioner be on a given field? The answer depends on the level of play as well as the base soil.

Photo 1 shows an infield that has a mix with a high silt to clay ratio (SCR - 2.5). The field also hosts high school and recreational play. In this example, a greater amount of conditioner should be used. Approximately 1/4 inch of conditioner is the recommended depth for the surface.


Photo 2 shows an infield with an engineered soil with a balanced silt to clay ratio (SCR -1.0) The field hosts professional play. In this example, a lesser amount of conditioner should be used. Approximately 1/8 inch of conditioner is the recommended depth for the surface.


Bottom line, in the instances below a greater depth of conditioner should be considered:

• Infield mixes with a high SCR
• Difficulty in keeping moisture in an infield (recreational play)
• Infield mixes with a great amount of fine and very fine sand
• Infield mixes that tend to become too firm in dry weather

The goal is to create a top 1/4 inch that is managed to allow for cleat-in and cleat-out play. 





















Download the Smart Turf Printable - Depth of Infield Conditioners

The original post can be viewed here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

UPDATED: Calcined Clay vs Expanded Shale


There are 2 major types of conditioner or topdressing for baseball and softball infields.

1.) Calcined Clay

2.) Expanded Shale/Vitrified Clay

What is Calcined Clay?
First, let’s look at calcined clay. Calcined clay is a montmorillonite clay fired at 1500 degrees in a rotary kiln. So, in the most basic terms, the clay is turned into a ceramic—think pottery in art class. Once the clay is a porous ceramic, it becomes very absorbent—think little sponges. That is why this material is great for drying a wet infield.

What is a Drying Agent?
Many drying agents also exist. (Rapid Dry, Quick Dry, Calcined Clay Drying Agent)  Simply, they are the finest particles of calcined clay. Why do they absorb moisture better than a coarser grade particle?  The smaller particles cover a greater surface area, thus a quicker “drying” material.

A couple common misconceptions with calcined clay:

“I can till calcined clay into my infield to raise clay content.” FALSE. 

Once fired, montmorillonite clay is no longer a clay. When calcined clay is tilled into an infield profile, the infield mix will become looser and can assist in holding more moisture in the column. Keep in mind, tilling in too much calcined clay is similar to adding too much sand—the column will become too loose for play.

“I have to add a drying agent to dry a puddle.” FALSE. 

Any calcined clay will absorb water. Keep in mind, the finer the particle the quicker the absorption of water. 

RECOMMENDATION: Stock only Pro’s Choice Select calcined clay. This product will work day in and day out as a topdressing. If additional material is needed to dry a wet infield, the additional product will not only absorb water but also remain as a long-term topdressing.
Avoid using drying agents/ rapid dry. While the finest particle size will dry a wet area quicker, they will negatively effect your infield mix profile over time.

What is a Vitrified Clay/ Expanded Shale?

Simply stated, a vitrified clay/expanded shale (Dura Edge ProSlide) is fired at over 2000 degrees. The product produced is lightweight and extremely durable. This product will not absorb as much moisture as calcined clay. During rain events this material will shed water to the base material to rehydrate the column while also ensuring the water runs off the infield.

Why is Vitrified Clay/Expanded Shale a Good Choice for Engineered Soils?

Engineered soils are materials that are blended via computer to ensure that the infield mix is consistent time after time. Due to this fact, engineered soils are the best product for the  value for infield mixes. Engineered soils can take large rain events and stay firm under foot. Furthermore, engineered soils will not become dusty when dry.

Due to the above facts, vitrified clay/expanded shale is a great choice for a couple reasons:
1.     The expanded shale allows for moisture to be shed to the engineered soil to more quickly drain the rain event while also allowing moisture to re-hydrate the base material. This is a great benefit for recreational surfaces that only see moisture during rain events.
2.     The weight of expanded shale (heavier than calcined clay) will allow the material to stay in place and lessen the chances of the topdressing “blowing around” the infield.
3.     Expanded shale is produced and available in bulk at a reduced cost. Oftentimes the cost of bulk material is 1/2 the cost of bagged products.

RECOMMENDATION: Expanded shale is an extremely durable product that should be considered as the base topdressing/sliding surface on an infield.  A general rule of thumb is a 50/50 blend of Pro’s Choice Select Calcined Clay/Pro Slide as the base topdressing.  This will require 2 pallets (80 bags) of each product.
























Download the printable Smart Turf sheet - Calcined Clay vs. Expanded Shale

This post original post can be viewed here. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tricks of the Trade - Grounds Crew Shoe Rack

Many times grounds areas are are full of different types of shoes.  Rain shoes, tarp shoes, running shoes, game shoes etc.  How do you keep them neat, clean and orderly?  Consider building a shoe rack.  Here is a photo of the grounds crew shoe rack at Victory Field.  Simply using 3/4 inch plywood and sealing it with black paint did the trick for this application.  Then, each area is labeled for each grounds crew member.


Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How Do I Create a Divot Mix for Sports Fields?

I get this question a number of times during my travels?  How do handle the bare areas on my field?

This is a major problem on cool season athletic fields.  All it takes is a simple blend of 2-3 products.

First, place topsoil and if you have it available, peat on the grounds shop floor.



Next, add seed at a rate equal to the soil/peat blend.  Yes, I know this is a lot of seed, but being aggressive with seeding rates are critical in high traffic areas.



Blend all the materials together with a shovel and place in a bucket.



Finally, place in the bare area.  Using some type of aerification before seeding is the best approach.  In this case, a pitch fork provided the aerification.


Creating a seed bank in cool season athletic fields are critical to achieving 100% cover.  Don't be afraid to seed frequently.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Growing Degree Day Tracker - What is the Correct Timing for My Crabgrass Pre-Emergent?

Exceptional spring warm is present across the Midwest.  Due to this, spring applications are weeks ahead of schedule.  A grounds manager can track growing degree days (GDD), but the easiest way to follow the GDD progress is to use the Growing Degree Day Tracker  brought to you by the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation and Purdue Turfgrass.   This tool is a great way to assist you decision making on crabgrass control applications and many other applications of time sensitive products.



Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Friday, March 25, 2016

Baseball and Softball Infield Mix Drainage

Infield drainage is typically a topic for discussion anytime I give a presentation on infield mixes, grades, etc.  So, when the J&D Turf team was tasked to remedy an infield drainage issue at University of Indianapolis, the team chronicled their work with photos.

Before we get to the photos, lets lay out a couple of items in regards to infield drainage:
1.     Do NOT install drain tiles under the infield mix.  The infield mix should be engineered and maintained to eliminate downward movement (percolation) of water.  All water during rain events should run off the infield.
2.     Due to item #1, positive surface drainage must be achieved on ALL infields.  For baseball and softball, surface drainage should be between .5% and 1%.  Keep in mind, if a softball field does not have sod in front of dugouts, surface drainage should be NO MORE than .5%.  Does your infield conditioner run off your infield?  Chances are, the infield has surface drainage exceeding the limits listed above.
3.     Purchase and manage a good infield mix.  Be careful when purchasing infield mix!  To learn more about infield mixes, click HERE and HERE.

So, lets explain what the existing conditioners were at Baumgartner Field at University of Indianapolis:
1.     Native soil.
2.     Due to existing topography, the grade falls from the RF foul pole to the 3rd base dugout.
3.     Bluegrass/Ryegrass surface
4.     Infield Mix - Dura Edge Classic 
5.     Conditioner - Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay
6.     Mound Clay - Dura Pitch Mound Clay 
7.     During rain events, water would run from RF under the tarp and become trapped.

The solution:

Install a six-inch wide trench:




Next, installation of a 4 inch perforated drain tile and 6 inches of USGA drainage gravel.




Then, installation of 6 inches of USGA rootzone sand all the way to the surface.  Then the existing sod was re-installed.  DO NOT seal off drain tiles by placing native soil over drainage gravel.




Finally, an edger was used to run across the trench/slit and expose 3 inches of the sand.  The bluegrass will grow into the sand.




The location of the drain tile while the tarp is on the field.


Lastly, the field ready for play the day after installation.


Mission accomplished!

Best of luck to the Lady Greyhounds as they begin the road to the D-II College World Series.

Click HERE to learn more about Dura Edge Classic and Dura Pitch Mound Clay.
Click HERE to learn more about Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay.

Click HERE to learn more about UIndy softball

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tricks of the Trade - Clay Sticking to Tamp? - Wrap in Plastic

Do you have issues with mound clay and infield mix sticking to the bottom of your tamp?  If so, considering taping a plastic bag to the bottom of the tamp.  The following photos were taken while two separate tamps were wrapped at Indiana Tech University. 

Tamp #1




Tamp #2








Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.  

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer