WRITTEN BY: Luke Yoder
When DuraEdge Engineered Soils are properly installed they have been proven to improve safety, consistency, playability, and help mitigate costly rainouts. A DuraEdge surface will also decrease maintenance moving forward because of the soil’s ability to eliminate migration and deliver quicker re-entry following rain events with less conditioner required.
Traditional infield mixes can have migration issues due to rain, wind, dragging, and from players. Migration from rain can cause gully washers that leave voids in the profile and cause material to end up in the grass edges, creating a lip. After these rain events, additional infield material and labor is required to fill the voids. The migrated material that ends up in the grass is extremely difficult to remove and inevitably builds up a lip that is dangerous. This lip will prevent water from properly shedding off the surface. Groundskeepers and Coaches that maintain surfaces with migration issues spend a huge amount of time working their infields to become playable after a rain event that has washed out material. Migration of material due to position players occurs on all surfaces but is greatly reduced on a DuraEdge infield surface. On a typical non engineered infield, position areas become chewed up and form a low area within the first month of the season. Once this happens moisture management becomes more challenging and playing after a rain takes more time and work because of the “bird baths” created from the migration. The fact that DuraEdge stays in place longer and reduces the need to add material or move material around helps tremendously to maintain surface grade. Less migration also equates to reduced cost and time spent on maintenance cycles. A common practice is dumping a 25 ton load each year onto the infield surface to bring the grade back up. When this practice of adding 25 tons each year is repeated, it not only takes more work and funding, but essentially the infield area becomes a plateau and the transition from the infield to the outfield becomes a safety issue. In most cases this is approved by the owner and performed by a NON-certified sports field contractor and they are unaware they are contributing to a bigger problem down the road. When this occurs, a serious cost is unavoidable that involves removing huge amounts of costly material, removing the lip, and essentially starting over. When a DuraEdge surface is installed correctly the end user can get by with a couple tons of infield material per year for edge work and some position area touch up. The need for additional material is greatly reduced as well as yearly grading.
Playing the game of Baseball or Softball in the rain does not happen as much as some sports. The idea is to have your infield surface become playable as quickly as possible after a significant rain event. A DuraEdge surface can be playable six hours after a measurable rain event with very little maintenance or investment in drying agent. Typical non-engineered infields experience a significant amount of work that is required to attempt to dry out the surface after a rain event. This is usually performed by opening up the top surface, applying conditioner, dragging conditioner in, and in some cases, repeating the process until the surface is deemed playable. When this technique is performed on a repetitive basis the integrity of the infield profile is compromised due to incorporating an excess amount of conditioner in the upper half of the infield. Grade is also compromised when the surface is worked too deep. Another common practice is to squeegee out or push water out of low areas with a broom to try and get the surface playable. Overtime this also will make the problem worse, making low spots deeper and increasing time for the infield to become playable. DuraEdge stays firm and when graded properly the water will shed off the surface without taking material into the edge. Within six hours, all that is required is a light drag or broom which will turn over the conditioner on the top and become playable much quicker without investing in a substantial amount of conditioner.
Consistency and improved playability is possible with a DuraEdge engineered infield soil. Once the surface is installed to proper grade (.5%-1%), moisture management becomes easier, increasing performance and reducing maintenance. When a DuraEdge infield profile has consistent moisture throughout and is properly compressed, the “cork board” effect comes into play. This is when you can take a knife or key and insert it into your profile easily and cleanly without material breaking apart or “chipping” out. This simulates a player’s cleat or spike and leaves cleat marks instead of foot marks or small potholes which would cause a bad hop. It also creates a surface that has that corky feel when you press your thumb into it, proper moisture will allow you to leave a small indention. When you have those consistent playing conditions you will see that each time the ball hits the surface or even with top spin it will check up, instead of appearing to speed up when the ball goes from grass to dirt. More importantly, the ball will take a consistent hop because if it hits a cleat mark (compared to a pothole) the ball will stay true. When a DuraEdge infield surface becomes hard due to lack of proper moisture the ball will take a quicker bounce but will not take an erratic hop. Typical local/native infield materials tend to chunk out and break up more as the game is played, which will cause inconsistency and bad hops.
So why does DuraEdge have these qualities compared to other materials? Most local/native infield mixes do not have the proper balance of sand, silt, and clay to hold onto moisture as long as a DuraEdge infield surface. Reduced pore space in a DuraEdge infield surface holds onto moisture longer than an infield material that does not have the correct ratios of sand, silt, and clay. The unique mineralogy of clay that comes with a DuraEdge infield surface reacts to water differently by holding moisture longer and becoming playable faster. Proper Silt:Clay ratios are essential for proper infield surfaces along with the proper sand. DuraEdge is the only infield material that has this unique clay and the same specification of sand blended in each time.
DuraEdge infield material compares to no other because it is designed and engineered specifically for Baseball and Softball and every batch is consistent no matter what field it ends up on across the country. DuraEdge first introduced this innovation to MLB in 2005. Today there are 25 MLB teams, over 100 MiLB, over 100 D1 and many more fields at the lower levels who have seen the return on investment by installing DuraEdge. While there are other offerings out there that have presented this to look good on paper, if you don’t know what you are looking for regarding sand size and clay materials you will not acquire the benefits of a DuraEdge Engineered Infield Surface.