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"Broad Benefits of Biostimulants"

"Native-Soil Field Management"


"Field Construction"

An understanding of the soil science principles relating to issues of compaction and drainage is essential in athletic field construction and maintenance. On baseball and softball fields, the relationship between the physical properties of the various soil profiles during the wide range of climatic conditions and field-use situations affecting that field must be considered to properly manage field playability.

Drainage issues on athletic fields involve surface drainage--the movement of water across and away from the soil surface--and internal drainage, the movement of water into and through the soil. Infiltration describes water movement into the soil. Percolation describes water movement through the soil profile.

Field construction should provide for adequate surface drainage of the entire field and adequate internal drainage for the non-skinned portions of the field. The clay content of the skinned area combined with the degree of compaction required to provide firmness for play create a percolation rate too slow to move water into standard internal drainage systems.


This common drainage design features a consistent slope extending from the infield lip to the warning track.

. Surface Drainage:

The main drainage issue on a baseball or softball field is the movement of water away from the primary areas of play, the skinned and infield surfaces, and then away from the entire field surface. This is achieved through creating a degree of slope sufficient to move the water without producing a negative impact on field playability.

The general rule of thumb for this slope is one-half percent throughout the infield, one percent throughout the outfield, and one-quarter to one-half percent across the "dirt." This degree of slope could be increased or decreased slightly based on the average amount of rainfall the untarped field would receive. The higher the rainfall received, the greater the degree of slope.

The mound should be the high spot on the field with all water flowing away from it. Water hitting the center of the mound should flow in a cone away from the mound, moving equally in all directions. The infield slope should begin at the mound and continue equally and consistently in all directions past the basepath.

There are two common options for outfield drainage. The first continues the principle above, with an equal and consistent degree of slope extending outward in all directions to the warning track. The second option calls for a crown in center field, with the slope extending from the crown outward to the warning track. This option drains the outfield as two halves. Field design and construction also must provide a method of removing the water accumulated at the perimeter of the field through surface drainage. This usually is handled through a channel drain at the edge of the field that connects to a central outside drain line that leads to a catch basin or sewer system.

If adequate surface drainage is not achieved, no internal drainage system can function well enough to compensate for the deficiencies and provide optimum field playability.


This diagram features a crown in centerfield that divides the outfield into two halves.