Watershed Planning Tool: Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF)

Watershed Planning Tool: Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF)


ACPF Version 2.2 Now Available! Now compatible with ArcGIS 10.5

·         A complete list of changes to version 2.2. can be found Here 
·         Existing tools have been optimized for better performance and results
·         Land use data has been updated to include 2016 field season
·         New watersheds added in northern MN and southeast Nebraska
·         Compatible with ArcGIS 10.5 and TauDEM 5.3.7
Facilitating Conservation Planning 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. We believe water quality challenges can be better met by improving the quality of information used to identify conservation options in watersheds and on farms. High-resolution geo-spatial datasets that can improve the information base available for conservation planning have recently become available. The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) toolbox can be used within the ArcGIS® (Ver. 10.2 – 10.5) environment to analyze soils, land use, and high-resolution topographic data to identify a broad range of opportunities to install conservation practices in fields and in watersheds. These opportunities can then inform of a non-prescriptive approach to encourage farmers and landowners to become engaged in local watershed improvement.

  • Process (or “hydro-condition”) a watershed’s high-resolution topographic data for terrain 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 in your watershed, including:
    • Drainage water management
    • Surface Intake Filters or Restored Wetlands
    • Grassed Waterways
    • Contour Buffer Strips
    • Water and Sediment Control Basins
    • Nutrient Removal Wetlands
    • Edge-of-field Bioreactors
  • Map opportunities for riparian management:
    • Prioritize for runoff interception and to address bank erosion
    • Opportunities for removal of dissolved nutrients and floodplain reconnection
    • Saturated riparian buffers
User options are included in every tool to allow flexibility in matching practice-siting criteria to each local setting.

Recent land use, field boundary, and soil survey information for individual HUC12 watersheds in Iowa, Illinois, southern Minnesota, eastern Kansas, and portions of Nebraska, Missouri, and Wisconsin can be downloaded HERE. Via this ACPF land use viewer web page, users may navigate to individual HUC12 watersheds, view land-use maps, and download land use and soils data that can be directly used as input data for the ACPF toolbox. Before developing information on conservation priorities and opportunities using the ACPF toolbox, users will need to obtain elevation data for their watershed.

Land use and soils data for 590 HUC12 watersheds in 28 counties of Wisconsin have been added to the ACPF online data holdings. The data primarily cover western and south western Wisconsin with some data available near the base of the Door Peninsula. The data are available via the ACPF land use viewer web page.


IOWA 2-meter DEM Download

The ACPF Development Team at the USDA/ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, in cooperation with the Iowa State University GIS Facility (ISUGISF) are pleased to announce web access to state-wide, high-resolution elevation data for Iowa. These data are being made available in support of the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) and other GIS applications. The new release and accompanying information is available on the ACPF DEM page, on the ISUGISF web. The ISUGISF has created an ArcGIS Server application to download 2-meter DEM by HUC12 watershed for the state of Iowa. The DEM data can be accessed at http://www.gis.iastate.edu/gisf/projects/acpf.


The ACPF Forum is an online group for discussing technical issues related to using the ACPF tools. Anyone can view the discussions at https://groups.google.com/a/umn.edu/d/forum/acpf-group. To participate, first join the group by sending an email to mailto:acpf-group+subscribe@umn.edu


The map below shows where ACPF analyses have been run. Click on a watershed to learn who did the work.

View larger map

Submit watersheds to add to this map by completing this form. If you have a large number of watersheds to submit, email alewand@umn.edu to get a spreadsheet form.

Further information:

Premise of the ACPF Framework

In leveraging newly available data sources to effectively improve conservation planning information, we need to consider that:

Examples of Output Maps

Examples of output maps and a conservation plan combining several of the output maps :

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Tomer, M.D., S.A. Porter, D.E. James, K.M.B. Boomer, J.A. Kostel, and E. McLellan. 2013. Combining precision conservation technologies into a flexible framework to facilitate agricultural watershed planning. Journal of Soil & Water Conservation. 68:113A-120A.

Tomer, M.D., S.A. Porter, K.M.B. Boomer, D.E. James, J.A. Kostel, M.J. Helmers, T.M. Isenhart, and E. McLellan. 2015. Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework: 1. Developing Multipractice Watershed Planning Scenarios and Assessing Nutrient Reduction Potential J. Environ. Qual. 44(3):754-767

Tomer, M.D., K.M.B. Boomer, S.A. Porter, B.K. Gelder, D.E. James, and E. McLellan. 2015. Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework: 2. Classification of Riparian Buffer Design Types with Application to Assess and Map Stream Corridors J. Environ. Qual. 44(3):768-779


Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 9-11:30 a.m. CT: An Introduction to the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework  – Watch here

Press Release

September 2015, AgResearch Magazine: Toolset Identifies Water Conservation Options

The ACPF was developed at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (NLAE), of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. The development team was led by Mark Tomer and NLAE is located in Ames Iowa.

Early versions of the ACPF toolbox were developed under a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) awarded by USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to the Environmental Defense Fund; Eileen McLellan was the project coordinator.