March 2014

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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12 SportsTurf | March 2014 T his article is the second in a series about muddy fields. The first one, "No More Muddy Football Fields" (July 2013), was about construction, reconstruction, and reno- vation practices that minimize muddy condi- tions on grass fields. This article is about alleviating muddy skinned areas of ball diamonds for both baseball and soft- ball fields by replacing or amending the existing soil. The number one complaint for skinned areas has to do with moisture—either too much or too little. Skinned areas with too much moisture will be wet, soft, and muddy, while skinned areas without enough moisture will be hard, dry, and dusty. It's important to remember, the recommendations that keeps fields from becoming muddy in wet climates also work for skinned areas in dry areas of the country. Soil texture and soil porosity are key elements for keeping fields playable in both wet and dry weather. The opinions presented here are based on my 30 years' experience with skinned area renovation and installation, along with feedback from hundreds of owners, coaches, and players. All of the examples are based on real world sit- uations in renovating and building community fields, park and recreation fields, and high school and college fields. THE IDEAL SKIN The ideal skinned area has many or all of the following qualities: First and foremost, the skinned area is graded for surface runoff of water. It is playable soon after a heavy rain with excess water evaporating quickly. It has the abil- ity to retain moisture yet deal with excessive rainfall. It re- NO MORE MUDDY SKINNED AREAS Field Science | By Jim Puhalla Top Left: Excess skin soil is being removed from the base path to improve surface drainage. Bottom Left: A tractor is being used to spread the amendment evenly over the entire skinned area. Middle: The amendment is being rototilled into the existing skin soil at the recommended rate. Right: Notice the color is dull because the amendment is dusty from the tilling process. Soil texture and soil porosity are key ele- ments for keeping fields playable in both wet and dry weather.

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