HOW TO: DRAG AN INFIELD

Step 1. Choose the proper drag for your infield skin.

The 1-inch square mesh steel drag mats work well in all soil and topdressing types. The steel mesh is the only drag type that works well in heavy infield soils with no topdressing. That's because this drag unit can easily break up any chunks or balls of heavy soil that will surface from nail dragging, especially in moist soils. The drawback to steel mesh mats is that they promote soil and topdressing transport because of the amount of material that must fill the drag mat while operating. Therefore, if you use improper dragging techniques, low spots and high spots will rapidly develop on an infield skin.

Cocoa mats and drag brooms work effectively on sandy infield soils and infield skins with a topdressing on them. Because of the density of cocoa fibers and broom bristles, these drags do not load up and transport material as easily. They tend to almost float across the infield surface displacing very little of the infield skin material.

Step 2. Move slowly and stay away from the turf edges.

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This is not a race. Keep dragging speeds down, especially on turns. Keep the drag 6 inches or more away from turf edges in order to reduce the risk of lip buildup. The edges can be dressed up manually using a drag broom or hand drag.

Step 3. Use proper dragging patterns.

Proper use of dragging patterns can preserve surface grade for efficient surface drainage, cut high spots, fill low spots and provide a glass-smooth playing surface for the game. Start dragging operations on high spots in the infield, and end them in low spots to help transport soil from the high to the low areas. If your surface grade is OK, finish your dragging wherever you started it from to replace the soil or topdressing you pulled away when you began. It is important to perpendicularly crossover drag patterns, when possible, to help crosscut any possible wave patterns that could develop on the infield surface.

TOTALLY SKINNED INFIELDS

Avoid dragging the same pattern day after day. Rotate patterns daily. Avoid starting from the center of the infield skin and dragging outward in a circular pattern until you end on the outer edge. This promotes the deterioration of the crown of the infield skin and the build up of lips on the edge of the infield skin, which in time will drastically reduce if not negate any surface drainage off of the infield skin. In order to preserve the infield skin crown, start dragging from the outer edge of the infield skin and continue in a circular motion inward to the center of the infield and end there. This will help to bring soil back into the center of the infield and maintain the crown. This pattern should be rotated with other dragging patterns such as concentric circles, figure eights and others to help maintain the playing surface.

REGULATION SKINNED INFIELDS WITH INFIELD GRASS

With fewer dragging patterns available due to the limited size of the skin, moving slow, especially when turning, is more critical on these fields to avoid bowling out the infield skin.

Paul Zwaska is general manager of Beacon Ballfields (Middleton, Wis.).

Infield Skin Type Steel Mat Cocoa Mat Drag
Drag Drag Broom
Heavy infield skin soils With no topdressing X
Sandy infield skin soils With no topdressing X X X
Any infield skin soil With no topdressing X X X

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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