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Infiltration - the movement of water into the soil profile.
Percolation - the movement of water down though the soil.
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Precipitation - rainfall.
Irrigation - applications of water through a controlled system to supplement precipitation in order to satisfy the moisture needs of the plant.
Drainage - the movement of water from an area by surface flow (run-off) or internal flow through percolation and/or drain lines designed in herring bone or gridiron format.
Water table - the collection of water in the lower soil sections in a holding reservoir.
Perched water table - the collection of water within the root zone of the soil because of soil structure and texture. Soil profile - the vertical arrangement of the soil and constituents (see attachment)
Thatch - the layer of dead but undecomposed plant material between the green grass layer and the topsoil.
Mat - the layer of dead, decomposed plant material and soil separates (sand, silt, and clay) between the thatch layer and the tops oil.
Organic zone - the zone of thatch and mat.
Compaction - the physical movement of the soil particles into closer arrangement at the expense of the porous space (air water) in the profile.
B. Field Review
Upon arrival, walked the field and made observations. Talked with Kevin Price and Troy Johnson (Ledger-Enquirer) and Ken Clary (Columbus Catfish) about concerns in the outfield and infield areas. Identified and diagnosed problem areas using soil profile tool, soil compaction tester and soil probe.
The number one problem with most sports fields is drainage. This field is no exception. Drainage problems in the outfield were identified and discussed. Soil probing with the profile tool and probe indicated variations in the depth of the topsoil across the outfield. This variation ranges from a shallow 3-inch depth in some locations to as much as 7-inch depths in other locations without any pattern to the findings. Most fields of this caliber can survive on a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of topsoil (root zone). Also, the depth of the thatch and mat varied. Thatch was measured in a range of _ to 1-inch of organic layer (thatch plus mat) is desirable. Too much thatch and mat will interfere with proper inflitration and percolation, thus creating a perched water table between the organic layer and the topsoil. This will greatly impede proper drainage.
Some gravel was detected in the outfield, but was at the lower level of the topsoil or below the topsoil zone. Due to this positioning, the gravel does not pose a hindrance to growing the turfgrass. In fact, it's location will assit in internal drainage.
The field surface has undulations across the outfield. This means that the water received either from precipitation or irrigation may be standing in puddles across the field until it evaporates or eventually infiltrates. Due to the make-up of the profile (high organic content and compaction) the rates of infiltration and percolation are slowed and need to be addressed.
In so far as the infield is concerned, I was told about the surfacing of glass during practice and play. Any glass that is buried into the infield is a situation that can only be corrected by soil removal and the addition of new soil material
The skinned area appeared to be in good condition and was being maintained properly.
After carefully analyzing the site, there are two options that can be considered. Either work with what you have or do a complete renovation and remove all that is there in the root zone and bring in all new material. The latter would not be realistic due to the cost involved. Thus, the former is the more appropriate option at this time. Therefore, the basic strategies that can be employed to correct the problems include aeration and drainage.
It is my recommendation to drill aerate the field at a depth of 6-inches and topdressing the holes with the proper topdress materials. The drilled material (existing) should be removed and disposed. Lightly topdress the field and float out. This activity can be performed as early as May and select a date that least interferes with play. This will help soil structire, infiltration and percolation thus providing a healthier playing surface.
Secondly, drain lines need to be installed in the outfield to help carry excess soil moisture to the warning track drain line. This is a larger project and would best be performed in the off-season. The drain lines would need to be installed below the topsoil level and laser shot to the warning track for proper movement of water.
Thirdly, a maintenance program needs to be identified and implemented that will address best management practices in the activities of mowing, fertilization, irrigation, verticutting, rolling, floating and pest management. Having a proper program to follow and having a turgrass specialist (field superintendent) on staff who can provide professional results will be very critical to the sucess of the field.