If Your Infield Mix is Too Hard
The clay content in your infield mix may be too high. Perform a sand, silt and clay analysis of your infield mix to understand the proportions in your mix (see"What is an Infield Mix?" section below).
- If you have more than 20% clay or silt, you need to add a calcined clay conditioner like Turface® and sand to bring the percentage of sand up and thus reduce the percentage of clay and silt.
- If your infield mix is close to 60% sand, 20% silt, and 20% clay and you have a 20% to 25% mix of Turface, your problem may be not enough water to keep the infield mix soft.
What is an Infield Mix?
All soils consist of sand, silt and clay. The infield mix is the combination of these components plus any conditioners or additives.
To understand how your mix works you need to understand the components. 100% sand is loose, free flowing and drains well. On its own and dry, sand will produce an unstable and unpredictable surface. However, with the right amount of water it will be firm and playable but forgiving, allowing for sliding and clean ball hops. Consider a beach where the water meets the shore. This area would make a very playable surface.
The other 2 components of soil, silt and clay have opposite issues compared to sand. Drainage is poor so water puddles, creates slippery areas and causes rainouts. Also, when clay and silt get too dry they become rock hard, often cracking, and create dangerous hops and possibly injury. These issues can be greatly compounded when clay and silt get compacted due to heavy traffic. If kept at the right moisture level, and properly groomed, clay and silt are very stable and wear resistant making them ideal for high impact areas.
All three components are necessary to attain a safe and playable field that is easy to maintain. WATER MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL TO PROVIDING A SAFE AND PLAYABLE FIELD NO MATTER THE SOIL MIX. Knowing the makeup or composition of your infield mix will help determine a baseline from which maintenance practices can be developed. A sand, silt, clay analysis can be performed on your field in two ways.
Option 1: Submit a sample of your infield mix (1 pint baggie) to your Turface® distributor, soil testing lab or your local Ag Extension service. Ask them to perform a sand, silt, clay or particle size analysis. There are costs associated with this option but they are reasonable.
Option 2: Fill a straight sided jar half full of your infield mix. Fill with water and shake vigorously until the soil is suspended in the water. Set aside and let it stand until the mix has fully settled. This will take from 1 hour to overnight. The sand will settle out first and will be at the bottom, the silt next and the clay last and at the top layer. Measure each layer and divide it by the depth of the total mix in the jar. This will give you the percentage of each component.
Proper soil sampling technique: Remove the top ½ inch of infield mix. Take several samples from around the infield at a depth of ½ inch and 3 inches. Mix these samples in a container to get a well-mixed sample. Use this mixed sample to do your jar test or send out for testing. If certain areas of your field stand out as significantly different, sample and test these areas individually.