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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317117

Title: Agricultural Conservation Planning Toolbox User's Manual

item Porter, Sarah
item Tomer, Mark
item James, David
item BOOMER, KATHLEEN - Nature Conservancy

Submitted to: Agricultural Conservation Planning Toolbox User's Manual
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2015
Publication Date: 10/1/2015
Citation: Porter, S.A., Tomer, M.D., James, D.E., Boomer, K.M. 2015. Agricultural Conservation Planning Toolbox User's Manual. Agricultural Conservation Planning Toolbox User's Manual. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) comprises an approach for applying concepts of precision conservation to watershed planning in agricultural landscapes. To enable application of this approach, USDA/ARS has developed a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) based software tools to identify candidate locations for different types of conservation practices that can be placed within and below fields in order to reduce, trap and treat hydrologic flows, and thereby improve water quality in agricultural watersheds. This manual describes how to apply the ACPF planning tools, with instructions on input data, file management, digital-terrain-model processing, stream delineations, runoff risk assessment, and execution of Python programming scripts that are used to propose conservation-practice placements. Possible locations for surface-intake filters, drainage water management, grassed waterways, contour buffer strips, nutrient removal wetlands, and water/sediment control basins are identified and mapped by the ACPF tools. Routines that help the user assess a watershed's riparian corridors and identify appropriate riparian buffer placements are also included as part of the ACPF toolbox. Results from applying these tools provide an inventory of opportunities for conservation practice placement at the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC)12 watershed scale, which is meant to help facilitate the watershed planning process. USDA/ARS has developed ACPF input data bases for land use and soils for Iowa, Illinois, southern Minnesota, and parts of northern Indiana. High resolution terrain data, typically obtained through LiDAR surveys, are required, but are becoming widely available. This manual accompanies these ACPF software tools as a training and referencing resource for use with the initial release version of these tools, written for use in the ArcGIS version 10.2 or 10.3 environment. The authors strongly recommend these tools be used as part of a collaborative planning effort that includes local landowners, and be applied by planning staff with knowledge of, and access to, the subject watershed.