Screen capture from the ACPF Toolbox

Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) Toolbox

This downloadable GIS toolset can help conservation planners, landowners, and researchers better manage watershed runoff while supporting agricultural production, as well as to identify appropriate locations for implementing conservation options in a watershed.

The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) is an approach for applying concepts of precision conservation to watershed planning in agricultural landscapes. To enable application of the framework, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service developed a set of geographic information system (GIS)-based software tools to identify locations for different types of conservation practices that can be placed within and below fields in order to reduce, trap, and treat water flows and thereby improve water quality in agricultural watersheds. A riparian functional assessment is also included. Results are presented as a menu of conservation practice placement options that can help planners engage landowners in conservation planning.

The ACPF watershed planning toolbox is intended to leverage modern data sources and help local farming communities better address soil and water conservation needs. Soils, land use, and high-resolution topographic data are analyzed to identify a broad range of opportunities to install conservation practices in fields and in watersheds.The ACPF Version 3 toolbox is used within geographic information systems (GIS), is compatible with ArcGIS Pro (2.6) and ArcGIS desktop (10.8), and utilizes TauDEM5.35 for terrain analyses.

Using tools in the toolbox, users can:

  • Process (or “hydro-condition”) a watershed’s high-resolution topographic data for terrain analyses (hydrologic flow-routing, slope analyses).
  • Determine which fields within a watershed are most prone to contribute runoff to streams.
  • Identify where field-scale and edge-of-field practices could be installed, including: drainage water management, surface intake filters or restored wetlands in topographic depressions, grassed waterways, contour buffer strips, water and sediment control basins, woodchip bioreactors, and nutrient removal wetlands.
  • Map functional opportunities for improving riparian management in a watershed by showing where interception of runoff should be prioritized, where bank erosion may be occurring, and where low-lying areas offer opportunities for removal of dissolved nutrients and floodplain reconnection.
  • Version 3 provides a landscape discretization feature called riparian catchments; this can help planners identify landscape vulnerabilities to water quality degradation and link riparian and upland conservation opportunities. Version 3 also gives users a way to merge wide river and water body polygons with the stream network, extending riparian planning options to include shorelines.
  • Utilities for updating land use and field boundary data are also available to assist with management of watershed data.

User options in every tool allow flexibility for matching practice-siting criteria to each local setting.

The software downloads as an archived, compressed file that also includes a user's manual and installation instructions.

Last modified
26 August 2021 - 5:26pm