I've been struggling to come up with a workable plan to deal with one of my fields. It's about 1.5 acres and totally infested with docks (they cover approximately 1/3 of the area). It was totally overgrazed and poached by the previous owners putting 11 yes I did say 11 horses in it. It is very compacted and poorly draining clay that often has standing water on the surface at this time of year. What remains of the grass is mainly rye grass which is totally unsuitable for our laminitic Shetland pony. I would like to end up with a very diverse sward with a mix of low sugar grasses and herbs. My problem is how I get there. I have quite a large pile of well rotted manure that I plan to spread and thought about ploughing this in and maybe sowing some Alfalfa to help break up the compaction but I'm not sure how well it would grow up here. If it did I could then put the sheep in to graze it as we don't have any machinery or the climate to turn it into hay. Does anyone have any ideas for me or can you point me to some good books etc that may help.
I started watching a video series on youtube called farm for the future that was about a farm and pasture management talk in northern UK. It is on my list to go back are rewatch it again this winter.
I would be a little leary of placing too much rotted manure on top of the field if you have pretty deep compaction. It could turn the top layers into too much of a mucky mess. You might consider encouraging deep tap-rooted plants in the pasture to help you break-up that heavy compaction. Dandilions, Queen Anne's lace and a golden rod helped turn one section of my pasture into something less hard than concrete! And, I made sure to put too much grazing pressure on that part of the field.
Maybe break your field up into smaller sections with temporary tape and use a quadrant system for rotating the ponies. This way, each section of the field will be given some time to recover from the pressure of the herd. If you put in 4 or 5 sections and rotate the ponies at a weekly/week and a half intervals, each field will get at least a months rest between visits. That's pretty good. And, as the fields recover you might be able to increase that time by a day or two.