Performance Starts With the Best Soil

The quality and composition of soil isn’t just important for environmental purposes—there are a number of activities you might not think of right away that are also greatly impacted by soil quality. For example, rodeos, horse racing, baseball and other field sports all require high-quality soil composition to provide the best performance and the utmost safety for all competitors. Both the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, as well as its impact and compaction effects, all need to align for an ideal performance.

Let’s take a look at just a few examples.

Rodeos

The type of soil used in rodeos is very influential in determining the kind of performance it will provide. For example, there are clay floors, sand floors and loam floors. The longest-running rodeo in the United States is the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, and features a floor that’s covered in a red clay that’s packed down to the demands of some of the biggest rodeo stars in the world.

There are some types of contestants who are especially picky with the type and quality of dirt. Barrel racers, for example, must be able to make tight turns on their horses around the barrels on the competition floor, which means their horses need to be able to maintain solid footing. The surface must also be kept smooth for faster riding and for safer sliding. The clay in rodeos is regularly raked, watered and maintained to ensure it has the exact type of conditions necessary for a high-quality rodeo.

This is a long way removed from the earlier days of rodeos, which took place on top of prairie sod that wasn’t always as predictable in terms of footing and safety.

Sports fields

The part of baseball fields that get the most soil attention is the infield and diamond, which are all dirt. If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, you’ve seen crews come out with large rakes to run around the infield and smooth out the surface during breaks and between innings. Believe it or not, there’s a lot that goes into the selection of dirt and the design of these infields when constructing a new baseball stadium and when maintaining the playing surface.

Other sports also have a lot of concerns regarding the quality of soil used in their playing fields. In football, there aren’t many stadiums left that use entirely natural dirt and grass surfaces—many use a composite mixture of dirt, natural grass and recycled rubber materials. But for those fields that do use natural grass surfaces, the quality of the soil is crucial to providing stable footing, which helps players to avoid catastrophic injuries.

Horse racing

Horse racing also features dirt tracks, and the quality of dirt is crucial for the safety and speed of the horses. There are several major factors that go into determining the quality of a dirt track, including the particle size, distribution and clay content. The soil’s shear strength is also crucial. This term refers to the result of friction and the interlocking of particles in the soil. The higher the shear strength, the greater the magnitude of stress the soil can withstand, which is important for horse tracks, as they see a whole lot of stress in any given race.

For more information about how soil quality leads to better performance in competitive environments, contact Soil Advocates at admin@soiladvocates.ca today.

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By |2019-05-06T17:40:19-04:00April 30th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.

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