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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #440839

Research Project: Further Development of ACPF – New Tools and New Partnerships Between NRCS and ARS Water Quality Researchers

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12130-008-035-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Aug 12, 2021
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

1) Improve the interpretations and applications of Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) outside the Upper Midwest. 2) Develop tools for innovative water quality practices not currently represented in ACPF. 3) Foster new ACPF connections between ARS and NRCS to encourage broader application and testing of the tool. 4) Establish coordination and collaboration with new ACPF Hub. 5) Test the efficacy of newly developed ACPF tools in selected agricultural watersheds.

In recent years there has been some expansion of Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) use to the northeastern U.S., the southeastern U.S. and the lower Mississippi basin. Results have been promising, encouraging broader application, but NRCS and ARS staff have also identified new challenges in these regions due to fundamental differences in landforms and agricultural practices that need to be better represented. These include small, irregular field sizes in some eastern states, and levelled floodplain lands in the lower Mississippi basin that are frequently regraded. There is a clear need to further develop dialogue with both NRCS and ARS scientists within these regions to ensure that effective conservation practices are accurately represented within ACPF. In a number of cases, this will require improvement of existing tools to provide more flexibility. Examples include the tools for grassed waterways and vegetated ditches, water and sediment control basins, farm ponds, contour buffer strips, and nutrient removal wetlands. In addition, there are a number of practices, both within the Upper Midwest and elsewhere, for which there are currently no tools within ACPF. These include grade stabilization structures, phosphorus removal structures (or other practices addressing dissolved phosphorus treatment), and two-stage ditches. Finally, widespread application of ACPF depends on broadening the base of users within NRCS and researchers within ARS and universities. Further improvement depends on a) collaborative research to develop and test new assessment protocols for new practices to be added, especially innovative practices; b) understanding of NRCS needs for watershed and practice assessment tools in ACPF to support both area-wide planning and critical source area identification within fields and watersheds; c) broad collaborative use and evaluation by field practitioners and watershed stakeholders; and d) effective communication and collaboration between developers and users.