Trying to fix up my pasture, any advice would be appreciated

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Nov 28, 2007
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I have a pasture that has been thinning over the past about 5 years. The thinning is due mostly to cows being in the pasture when it has been wet and a lot of water washing into one spot and sitting. Most of the pasture is okay but I've tried for the past couple years to make sure the cows haven't been in it when it is wet. The problem is the field has a high spot and in order to water the bottom half of the field the top half of the field gets drowned. I've tried my best this year to prevent the drowning of the top part of the field by putting in a few ditches so the water drains off better from the top half of the field to the bottom half of the field. My real question is, how do I fix whats already been done? The pasture is thinned out on the upper end and has kinda course clayey soil that nothing is really growing on. Would adding manure (a lot of it) in the places that are just dirt help it come back or is it in desperate need of some topsoil? I have pondered the thought of plowing the field up and starting over but kinda want that as a last resort. What would be the best grasses to try growing in the bald areas? Here's a photo of my field:
View attachment 1
Also I have this low spot that just puddles up a lot of water what the best way to get rid of it? It has the same problem just a lot more sever here.

This field also has a lot of salt grass on its high spots and where little water gets to if any (although I'm trying to change that). Do you know of any grasses that I could plant in these high spots that wouldn't require much water to grow and would hopefully choke out most of the salt grass? Link to some good grass seed I could scratch in if possible.

Thanks for all your help.
I think I would try to chisel plow or subsoil it first to see if I couldn't break up the pan a bit. This might also help improve your drainage.
I'd get a soil test done and then talk to your extension agent for advice about what will work in your soil. You can get a pasture seeder that won't require plowing, although subsoiling as was suggested might be helpful.
Dig a small lake in the middle and use the dirt to fill the rest. Dividing the paddock into 4 sections may help to control grazing giving certain areas time to come back.
The next pick looks like a hundred years of the cattle using the same path several times a day. When it is wet the cattle remove dirt/mud on their hooves therefore making the area lower. At the same time they are compacting the soil. Close the gap and put water in both pastures. Chisel plow the old path. Move the cattle from pasture to pasture as needed.
I would second that idea of performing a soil test. It's a very inexpensive way of determining what's going on with the nutrients or lack of. And subsoiling is a great idea to aerate or to help get the nurtients down to where the need to be. As to the low area - fill it in or dig it out and make a tank out of it. Nothing like a drought to make us appreciate that extra water !!
I think I'll take some of your advice and have a soil sample done. I also took these photos today to give you real up close photos of what has happened and if it can be fixed enough cost effectively for what it will in turn give out.
The row crop farmers around here put pipe in under the ground to drain wet areas in there field. I wonder how that might work?

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