Evaluation of factors contributing to surface stability of sand-based turf

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The stability of sand-based athletic fields is critical to maximizing playability and safety. The objective of this study was to assess the contributions of sand and plant factors to the surface stability of sports fields. In September 2000, Hallet mason sand (subround), Hallet concrete sand (subround, wide size range), Sidley Pro/Angle sand (angular), Bunker White sand (round), and a mixture of 85% Hallet mason sand + 15% soil (v/v) were filled into pre-excavated field plots. The plots were compacted using a plate compactor and consolidated naturally. Half of each plot was planted with washed sod and half seeded, both with ‘Unique’ Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.). Angular sand in the root zones provided 10 to 47% higher cone penetration resistance than Hallet mason sand during the turf establishment. The cone resistances of Sidley Pro/Angle sand in established turf were 873.3 kPa for seeded and 976.8 kPa for sodded. Peak deceleration was positively correlated with organic matter content in the thatch/mat layer and soil moisture content. Traction could be used as a complement to the cone penetration method because both root biomass and organic matter content in the mat layer were positively correlated to the shear strength (R2 = 0.55–0.72). The higher stability due to angular sand was still evident 4 yr after turfgrass establishment. Subround sand with particle-size distribution within the specified ranges of USGA specification should be avoided for construction or topdressing. Hallet concrete sand, with a high coefficient of uniformity, did not result in higher surface stability.

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