Moisture management is an important aspect of maintaining a safe and playable infield. Read on to see our best practices for moisture management of DuraEdge infields.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
The key to setting yourself up for success with moisture management is a properly installed foundation. This requires your infield to have 100% positive surface drainage. We recommend a 0.5 – 1% slope to achieve this. This process typically involves an experienced laser grader.
Prepping For the First Game
In order to prep for your first game, your infield profile requires consistent moisture throughout. This can be measured manually with a key or knife, or with a moisture meter. Moisture meter readings should be 25 – 30% when inserted 3 – 4 inches into profile. After you achieve this desired moisture content throughout your profile, rolling, in most cases, is the next step to achieve proper compression. Proper compression is only accomplished with ideal moisture throughout the profile. As long as your profile does not dry out more than the top 1/2 – 1″ at a time, you will maintain proper compression by simply keeping your ideal moisture percentages throughout the profile.
The Long Stretch
Maintaining moisture throughout homestands or throughout your season in general will require keeping your ideal moisture levels in place by timing your hydration schedule for most effective results. The most beneficial time to water is at the end of the day close to sunset. This should be the heaviest watering that creates standing water across the entire infield surface. Flooding the infield at this time means minimal evaporation and maximum absorption of water into your infield profile. Effective watering at the end of the day will set you up for success the next day.
In the instance where you have a game at 1 PM, it is ideal to start taking a look at your surface around 8 AM. If you can walk on your skin without leaving footprints and there is no standing water, this is an ideal time for nail dragging. Perform your nail drag and keep an eye on your conditioner. Within 1 – 2 hours when your conditioner starts to dry, take a 1″ mesh screen drag over the surface to bust up and settle any clay chunks. After dragging is complete then it’s time for another water. At this point you want to put a heavy shine on your surface, but not leave standing water. After you’ve got your infield shining, you can then turn it over to the team for workouts prior to your game. Utilize any time you get between workouts and the game to perform a quick drag and a water. This last water is basically just coloring your conditioner since your base is already set up for game-time.
Reattaining Proper Moisture
If your team has been away or you simply missed some watering, you may lose your moisture down past the first inch. Once you re-achieve proper moisture throughout, your infield will become soft and will need to be compressed properly under ideal moisture conditions. If you don’t have a roller, use a utility vehicle or mower with turf tires to compress.
Some Extra Watering Help
If you have a dedicated “dirt zone” for watering, or if you adjust your heads along your dirt edge to go to 360 vs 180 degrees, this can help reduce your time on the hose by effectively watering 50 – 75% of your surface.
These #BestPractices for proper moisture management are spot on for Spring Training environments and other teams in the South for March. This type of watering would come into play in April or May and last throughout the summer for teams in cooler more wet climates.
Questions? Email our very own Luke Yoder at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be happy to chat!