Watershed Planning Tool: ACPF

Watershed Planning Tool: ACPF

Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework and Daily Erosion Project overview:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CT
UW Madison, Science Hall, Room 140

Remote Access

Facilitating Conservation Planning in Agricultural Watersheds

This new 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 – 10.3) 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 become part of a non-prescriptive approach to encourage farmers and landowners to become engaged in local watershed improvement.

Training resources and workshops will be available – bookmark this website and check back later to learn more.

The ACPF Toolbox contains tools to:
  • 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 in your watershed, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Download ACPF Toolkit

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.04.30 AM


Recent land use, field boundary, and soil survey information for individual HUC12 watersheds in Iowa, Illinois, and southern Minnesota can be downloaded HERE. Via this 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



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 acpf-group+subscribe@umn.edu

Sign-up for ACPF News and Updates Here:
Sign-up for ACPF News and Updates!
Where has the ACPF been used?

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

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 :


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

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.

Contact Information:

Mark Tomer



The ACPF is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States