Location: Agroecosystems Management ResearchTitle: Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework ArcGIS® toolbox User's Manual, Version 3.0
Submitted to: Software and User Manual Public Release
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2018
Publication Date: 10/1/2018
Citation: Porter, S.A., Tomer, M.D., James, D.E., Van Horn, J.D. 2018. Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework ArcGIS® toolbox User's Manual, Version 3.0. USDA/ARS-National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. Available: www.acpf4watersheds.org.
Interpretive Summary: Farm producers need field-specific information to best understand their options to improve agricultural water quality. The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) comprises an approach to use high-resolution data on soils, land use, and topography, with a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) based software tools, to identify candidate locations for different types of conservation practices that can improve water quality in fields and agricultural watersheds. This manual describes how to apply the ACPF tools, with instructions on use of input data, digital-terrain-model processing, stream delineations, and use of programs that propose field-specific conservation-practice placements across a watershed. Locations for a variety of practices designed to manage/treat surface runoff or subsurface tile drainage are identified and mapped by the ACPF tools. Routines that assess a watershed's stream corridors to identify appropriate designs and placements of riparian buffers are also included. This third ACPF version features a new method to delineate ‘riparian catchments’ and enables the user to include lakes, reservoirs, and wide rivers in the riparian assessment. Results from these tools provide a menu of options for conservation-practice placements in small watersheds (12,000-40,000 acres), with input databases for land use and soils available online for >8,000 Midwestern watersheds. Toolbox results are meant to contribute to a collaborative, community-based planning effort that includes local landowners and planners. The ACPF is of interest to USDA-NRCS and a range of stakeholders interested in developing efficient yet adaptive strategies for agricultural water quality improvement, particularly in the Midwest Corn Belt.
Technical Abstract: The 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, data maintenance and 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, water/sediment control basins, and denitrifying bioreactors are identified and mapped by the ACPF tools. Routines that help the user assess a watershed's riparian corridors and identify appropriate designs and placements of riparian buffers and saturated buffers are also included as part of the ACPF toolbox. This third version features a new landscape discretization routine to delineate riparian catchments and enables the user to include water bodies and wide rivers in the riparian assessment. 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 >8,000 small (HUC12) watersheds in the Midwest. High resolution terrain data, typically obtained through Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) surveys, are required. This manual accompanies these ACPF software tools as a training and referencing resource for use with the third version of these tools, written for use in ArcGIS® version 10.2.2 through 10.6. Also included in the Version 3 download is a separate toolbox tested for compatibility with ArcGIS® Pro Versions 2.1 and 2.2. 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.