To remain usable in wet weather, sports fields are designed to rapidly drain precipitation (Petrovic, 2003). Some design strategies include utilizing sand root zones or “crowning” to rapidly drain excess moisture. Factors of rapid drainage, moist soil, and sandy soil are important in enhancing the runoff or leaching of nutrients and pesticides (Petrovic, 2003). Understanding factors that influence nutrient and pesticide loss provide opportunities to minimize the impact to surface and ground water quality.
Unlike soil amendments such as lime, zeolite does not break down over time. Instead, it remains in soil to improve nutrient retention. Because of its superior absorption and adsorption properties, zeolite reduces water and fertilizer costs by retaining beneficial nutrients in the root zone (Polat et al., 2004).
The porous structure of the zeolite mineral promotes active soil that remains aerated and moist over time
Because zeolite is not acidic, its use with fertilizers can buffer soil pH levels, which reduces the need for lime applications (Polat et al., 2004). Due to these properties, zeolite is beneficial both in terms of economic and environmental factors, to the construction and maintenance of sports fields.
A trial conducted at KMI (Hogg, 2015) examined the durability of zeolite on sports fields. The objective was to document the durability of zeolite during hydration and dehydration, which is a regular occurrence during the freeze/thaw cycle. The study was conducted outdoors during November 2014, a time when temperatures are continuously below freezing. Zeolite was placed on ice in a container and by means of solar absorption, the zeolite absorbed through the ice to the bottom of the container (Hogg. 2015). Then, the block of ice was turned over and zeolite once again absorbed through the ice. The process was repeated several times over the course of a month and the same results were observed. Study results demonstrate that zeolite can withstand freeze/thaw cycles indefinitely and degradation is not observed during the processes of hydration and dehydration (Hogg, 2015).