Monday, March 30, 2015

Test Your Infield Mix!

I have been very surprised during my travels this spring in the lack of grounds managers and coaches testing their infield mix.  In addition to this, I have seen numerous grounds managers adding material to infields that have not been tested.  We are in the 21st century! Testing is readily available and not that expensive.  An infield mix test will run anywhere between $100-$150 per test.  After all, buying and installing the incorrect material can greatly effect the playability of an infield. 

The leading lab for infield mix testing is Turf and Soils Diagnostics.  Depending on the type of test requested the results will provide gravel, sand, silt and clay percentages in a mix.  Also the silt to clay ratio (SCR) is reported.  Finally, a recommendation of materials to add to the existing infield is included.  I can’t stress enough, this is NOT a topsoil quality test or a basic nutrient test.  What does all this mean?

In future posts I will discuss some of the science behind an infield mix and why testing is important.  

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Creating an In Season Divot Mix

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 to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tricks of the Trade - Dugout Heaters

Well, it is that time of year where spring baseball in cool weather is a reality.  A trick of the trade used in many cold weather climates are heaters.  Many use propane “space heaters.”  While they do the trick, below is a nice example of a different type of heater in South Bend.  The South Bend Cubs have heaters mounted on the roofs of the dugouts.   A easy way to keep players and coaches warm during the cold spring months.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Do I Really Need a Warning Track?

Many coaches and field managers are currently prepping their fields for spring play.  Part of the preparation includes cleaning up warning tracks and installing additional warning track material.    

Warning tracks are a necessary item at high levels of play, but careful consideration should be taken to determine if they are necessary at lower levels of competitive play.  To learn more about the installation of a basic warning track, click HERE.  

In conclusion, do not install a track if your organization does not have the maintenance budget or manpower to maintain the surface.  A poorly maintained warning track is more dangerous than not having a track at all.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Infield Mix Run Off - The Mix and The Grade Make a Difference

Many coaches and grounds managers are beginning to prep their infields for the 2015 season.  The last thing a coach or grounds manager wants to see is an infield edge in a condition like the one in the photo below:

Why is the edge in this condition?  Two main reasons:

1.  The infield mix is a harvested mix with an extremely high silt to clay ratio (SCR).  An infield with a high SCR will erode in high wind conditions and material will migrate to the edges.  An engineered soil infield mix will stay in place and will not migrate.
2.  The grade of the infield exceeds 1%.  Infield mix grade is another critical component to eliminate runoff.

Are you using engineered soils for an infield mix?  Is your grade less than .5%?  If so, you will not have an infield edge like the one above.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Roll Those Infields!

Spring is slowly arriving. Many coaches are pushing to get on their infields as soon as possible. 
Regardless of the infield mix, the material will frost heave over the winter. So, you must roll your infield in the spring, ideally before you have any traffic on your infield. Now, the questions are When, Why, and How?

1. You will want to roll you infield when there is still moisture in the mix, but the mix is not too wet. When is this? When you can walk across the infield and you settle the frost heave, but there is no material sticking to the bottom of your shoes. Roll the conditioner and mix in multiple passes

1. Rolling accomplishes a couple of goals. First, it settles your infield so your mix will hold its grade and you will not have your conditioner/topdressing migrate into your base material. Also, the infield mix will also be firmer. This will allow for the ball to play down and true from the beginning of the season.

1. It is best to roll with a 3 ton duel drum roller. What is this? Click HERE to find out. If you can't get a 3 ton roller, any roller is better than not rolling at all. 

Remember, roll your infield as often as possible with a small pull behind roller as well all spring until the weather moderates. 

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Expanded Shale is an Excellent Choice for Engineered Soils

There are 2 major types of conditioner/topdressing for baseball and softball infields.
  1. Calcined Clay (Turface, Pro’s Choice Soilmaster, Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay, etc) 
  2. Expanded Shale (Diamond Pro Red Infield Conditioner)

What is Calcined Clay?

First, let’s look at calcined clay.  Calcined clay in 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. 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:

  1. I can till calcined clay into my infield to raise clay content - FALSE.  As explained above, 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.
  2. 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 professional grade calcined clay.  This product will work day in an 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. 

What is a Vitrified Clay/ Expanded Shale?

Simply stated, a vitrified clay/expanded shale is fired at over 2000 degrees.  The product produced is lightweight and extremely durable.  This product WILL NOT absorb as much moisture are 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 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. Bulk Materials - 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.

In conclusion, calcined clay is a necessary product to have in stock to address wet areas of an infield after a rain event.  Expanded shale is a extremely durable product that should be considered as the base topdressing/sliding surface on an infield.  

Click HERE to learn how to dry an infield after a rain event.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!