Walking through Hoo Brook Pasture yesterday I shot this image with my iPhone camera. The cattle worked this pasture in May and the first week of June this year, and similarly last year. For many years the growing season produced swathes of willow and alder scrub, 2.5 metres high Himalayan balsam, thistles, nettles and a sea of ragwort in this area. Three years ago, this pasture was Hoo Brook Wood.
The cattle ate all the Himalayan balsam here last year, and I cut the thistles and dug-up the ragwort during June and July of this year; buried ragwort seeds have already taken advantage of the sunlight to germinate, sprout, and replace some of those I removed. There is now considerably less thistle and a small amount of Himalayan Balsam.
I can see slight improvement in this often wet pasture, but at least another 3 years of grazing, trampling, invasive plant removal, and cowpatting are needed before the soil really begins to show any uniform microbial diversity and activity. There is a lot of building rubble and other rubbish buried in this area alongside Hoo Brook.