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Determining Moisture Content in Equine Arena Footing On-farm

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2022 ASABE Annual International Meeting  2200654.(doi:10.13031/aim.202200654)
Authors:   Staci E McGill, Morgan Hayes, Kiley Power, Michael “Mick” Peterson, Robert Coleman
Keywords:   Equine, Arena Footing, Arena Surface, Moisture Content

Abstract. Indoor and outdoor arenas are important fixtures on equine farms as they provide constant facilities for horses to work and train on. Many of the arenas use sand as the main component of the footing, though wood chips, fiber, rubber, and clay are also commonly found in footing (Hobbs et al., 2015; McGill, Hayes, Tumlin, & Coleman, 2021). Dust is a common issue in arenas and water is often used to control it, but water also serves to increase the shear strength of footing up to the bulk density (Hobbs et al., 2015). Some footing companies will indicate a moisture content that is optimal for their footing, but without a method to determine the moisture content, arena managers and owners rely on dust production to decide when to add more water, which can lead to over or under application of water. Oven drying of soil/arena footing is a common method for determining moisture content in the lab, but is not a practical solution on farms. This study sought to compare three different methods for determining moisture content in arena footing: oven drying, microwave drying, and FieldScout TDR 350 Soil Moisture Meter. The three moisture content determination methods were tested in three different types of footing: a straight sand footing, a sand and fiber mixture, and a sand with organic material mixture. The microwave drying provides comparable results to the oven drying method for the straight sand and sand with organic matter. The TDR is highly impacted by salinity content in the sand with organic matter footing, but is reliable in the sand footing sample.

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