Week 9 Group F Data Report: Turf Building

This was, admittedly, not the optimal week for me to be data reporter since I left the lab early, but in the time I was there, I recorded what I could! This was mainly observational/qualitative data, and does not lend itself to graphical summaries.

The first thing I observed was the size of our blocks. Our group was making corner blocks, which were meant to be 1 foot wide, 1 foot long, and 3 inches deep. We measured our spade to be 9 inches wide at its widest, and found that, in order to cut an approximately 12 inch side, we would need to make about 3 overlapping cuts. This large disparity between the three times the width of our spade and our targeted length of 12 inches can be attributed to the dense nature of the ground we were working with, which made it hard to get our spade all the way down into the earth; we were not penetrating at the widest part of the spade. We did, however, tend to extract blocks which had a depth greater than 3 inches, allowing us to level off some of the top parts and attain smoother blocks overall.

corner blocks
These are our first few corner blocks. We were tasked with making 16 of them in total (4 for each corner). As you can see, precision varied from block-to-block.

Though the ground material was difficult to work with, not all patches were created equal. We initially tried to begin our work in areas with less grassy cover, thinking they’d be easier to work with, but ended up finding that the amount of grass on an area seemed to have a negative correlation with how difficult it was to work with that corresponding area’s soil. That is, we ended up opting to work in an area with a lot of grass, finding the soil more penetrable.

My final observation has to do with the efficiency with which we were able to form and extract our turf blocks. At first, we were going block-by-block, and it was quite a slow process. Our first corner block, in fact, took about half an hour to complete, with the second one not taking much less time, even though we figured after the initial block was removed our process would be immediately expedited. We learned that our strategy of cutting out one block completely, removing it, and then going on to the next block was not optimized. Austin suggested the “brownie-pan” approach, wherein you cut a large incision several block-lengths long (we made ours about 4 long), and then cut across to form a rectangle with an appropriate width for the number of blocks you want to extracts, and then just cut across the rectangle, extracting many blocks at a time. This approach increased our efficiency exponentially, allowing us to make several blocks in the time it would have taken to get just one before, but definitely decreased our precision. This method involved much less measuring and much more guess-work, but overall was, without question, the way to go.

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