We asked experts from several leading companies:
What’s the most important thing sports turf managers need to keep in mind when maintaining their infield on a daily basis?
National Sales Manager/Pro’s Choice/Oil-Dri
The most important thing for a sports turf manager to maintain a proper infield is managing moisture content. If the infield is too dry and hard, you’re dealing with bad hops. These are dangerous and lead to errors and inconsistent play. If the infield is too wet, you can’t get on the field. Proper moisture also helps when resurfacing an infield. If you pull dry, dusty dirt into a hole, it won’t stay. That’s why soil conditioners are so important, as they let you manage just the right amount of moisture. This gives you a safe and consistent playing surface.
Brand Manager/Profile Products (Turface Athletics)
Moisture is the key, but it’s equally important to put the right tools to use in response to the level of moisture in the mix. If the infield skin gets oversaturated, for example, avoid taking heavy equipment out on the field that could cause ruts. Use a cocoa mat in lieu of a metal drag that would cause the clay to clump. Also, be sure to apply a calcined clay conditioner to absorb excess moisture and ultimately provide a buffer between cleat and clay.
Sales Representative/Diamond Pro
When managing an infield dirt or clay area, no matter what climate, the most important aspect is moisture content. Moisture is the glue that holds every particle together and gives you the ability to manage the hardness and softness of your material. Proper moisture management does take some time and effort to achieve the proper consistency. Proper moisture — along with proper grade — will make the sport turf manager’s job a lot easier. With our years of experience at Diamond Pro, we truly enjoy explaining and helping field managers execute these proper steps.
Owner/Southern Athletic Fields
Being constant and persistent are essential to maintaining the infield skin. Daily care during the season requires the sports turf manager to routinely manage high-traffic areas. All infield skins have different personalities — learn what the sand, silt and clay ratios of your infield skin is. This will help you plan the maintenance practices needed for your playing surface. Surfaces with high sand content are forgiving with ball speed, while high clay surfaces are much faster and have truer ball bounces. The addition of calcined clay is an important aspect for the infield skin, as it offers quick surfaces drainage and proper resiliency for comfort and play. These amendments help manage your moisture. Dragging the infield skin with a purpose ensures a smooth, safe surface with no low areas or ripples. By staying consistent with proper daily maintenance practices, fields are made safe and playable for all.
The daily maintenance of an infield is a mix of science and art. The most valuable tool is water and the control of the moisture in the infield skin; not too much, not too little. This will produce the required firmness for good footing, proper ball bounce and a safe surface. To do this, the material in the skin must have the capacity to absorb water, release water and remain stable in the process. The window of playable conditions can be enlarged by the proper balance of sand, silt and clay, enhanced by absorbent conditioners.