Have you experienced any of these issues with your baseball fields?
- Infields too slick and sticky in the rain, yet too hard when it’s dry
- Working hard to keep your fields playable
- Limited budget so limited solutions
- Unable to replace the entire surface with new material, even if you want to
And now with budgets possibly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more important to find ways to maximize the tools and resources field managers have access to, find cost-effective solutions and find ways to improve field playability without major changes or renovations.
For two fields in Arizona, a local high school and a local little league field, these are some of the challenges they faced season after season. Being a solutions provider, Ewing teamed up with DuraEdge to complete amended infield renovations that helped those fields increase playability.
"For both projects, we used the T.A.C.S. method and determined the best products to use to achieve the best playability," says Dan Jennings, Business Development for the DuraEdge West Team. "All of these tactics depend on moisture levels, maintenance levels, the proper materials and the correct silt to clay ratio. If you can attain these, your field will show improved playability and will allow for more play during wet and dry conditions."
What is T.A.C.S.? It’s a DuraEdge methodology that analyzes the existing infield surface using science and proven methods. T.A.C.S. stands for Test, Analyze, Compare and Solve.
I recently spoke with Dan to learn more about the T.A.C.S. method and how it was used to achieve success for these Arizona fields. Below is how the T.A.C.S. method worked in these cases.
Ewing and DuraEdge conducted testing on these infields by collecting samples of what the infields were comprised of. The samples are sent to a lab and results were sent back showing the particle distribution analysis and what the existing silt to clay ratio was.
A meeting was then held with the customer, Ewing, and DuraEdge where representatives went over the test results. With this information the customer then understood the source of frustration, as it related to wet/dry conditions on the infield skin. This is the science of the process. Oftentimes, field managers may use a local, infield mix on their fields, not knowing what the source of the problem truly is. They may be adding more problems rather than testing their existing infield to see if there may be a better alternative.
DuraEdge has plenty of experience around the United States to be able to show the customer what is needed to amend their infield and achieve an improved level of play. The customers received recommendations that were uniquely prepared for each of them, with quotes for the materials needed to amend the fields, rather than take on a big-budget renovation.
As part of DuraEdge’s methodology, the installation of materials was conducted through certified DuraEdge installers, making sure the amendments were installed consistently throughout the infield material, final grade achieved and topdressing materials spread over the top of the infield skin.
"The nice thing about these projects is that both infields did not need to be torn out, only amended. They were initially close to final grade and both were tested and deemed able to be amended to achieve improved playability," stated Jennings. "There is a need for final, and ongoing, yearly testing on these infields to ensure both are meeting customers' expectations. Future amending may need to take place as the test results come in."
Amending your infield using these four steps can help you achieve better playability of your infield skin but are not the only answer. Proper moisture management, proper infield maintenance and techniques as well as using the proper tools are all important to maintain your infield correctly. You need to also invest time and resources into the personnel and tools for the infield to make sure you are providing the best surface possible to the end user.