Screen capture from the ACPF Toolbox

Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) Toolbox

This 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.

The ACPF watershed planning toolbox is intended to leverage modern data sources and help local farming communities better address soil and water conservation needs. It is used within geographic information systems (GIS) environments—it is compatible with ArcGIS 10.4 and TauDEM 5.35—to analyze soils, land use, and uses high-resolution topographic data to identify a broad range of opportunities to install conservation practices in fields and in watersheds.

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, and nutrient removal wetlands. Version 2 added an edge-of-field Bioreactor tool.
  • Map functional opportunities for improved 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 2 includes identifying opportunities for saturated riparian buffers.
  • Updating utilities are available to assist with management of watershed data, including updating of land use and field boundary data.

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

The software is downloaded in an archived, compressed file that also includes a user's manual and installation instructions.

Last modified: 
1 November 2016 - 4:44pm