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Sports Turf Expert: Don’t Burn Your Fields to Dry Them

1 May, 2019

By: Michael Popke

You’ve probably heard about the high school baseball coach in Utah who poured gasoline on parts of a baseball field and lit it on fire to dry the surface. He contaminated the ground and found himself on administrative leave. A similar situation happened in Connecticut, where the damage estimate could hit $50,000.

Oh, and did we mention the soil now needs remediation?

Despite the seemingly obvious fact that using gasoline to dry your ball field is an incredibly bad idea, the fact that people persist in attempting it means that there’s some gap in education when it comes to proper field drying techniques,” noted AthleticBusiness.com, which interviewed Jody Gill, a certified sports field manager and president of the Sports Turf Managers Association, to get the lowdown on dousing and burning a field. 

“Soil that’s been soaked in any kind of a fuel or oil is not something you can easily dispose of,” she said. “I would think it could be easily considered a hazardous waste, which obviously drives the cost of disposal up right away. You could equate it to removing a fuel tank that’s been buried at an old gas station site for a very long time. The EPA looks at those as hazardous sites.”

There are many accepted (and much safer) ways to dry infields, she added, including the use of calcined clays that can be spread on and lightly raked into the surface to absorb moisture and make the field playable.

When asked about other methods of drying fields, Gill responded that “puddle pillows” can be used to absorb water, as can a tennis court squeegee. “Really, anything that will absorb water,” she said. “If you’ve got an area [of standing water], use a pump to pump that water away. There are multiple ways to deal with water.”

 

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