The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) is a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) based software tools used to identify potential locations for different types of conservation practices. It was developed at the USDA/ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa. It includes tools to process the LiDAR-based imaging and elevation models for hydrologic analysis, which then allows a series of prioritization, riparian classification, and conservation practice placement tools to be utilized. The ACPF Tools identify agricultural fields most likely to deliver runoff directly to streams. They also map and classify riparian zones to inform whole-watershed riparian corridor management and estimate the extent of tile drainage in the watershed. Conservation practices mapped using ACPF Tools include those that reduce, trap, and treat water runoff, and improve water quality. The ACPF Tools identify and map grass waterways, saturated buffers, denitrifying bioreactors, contour buffer strips, nutrient reduction wetlands, and water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs).
According to the ACPF Toolbox User’s Manual, “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.”
Graduate students and staff from the University of Iowa analyzed each HUC-12 subwatershed in the UWR Watershed using ACPF Tools. Results are used throughout the UWR Watershed Resiliency Plan and can be used by WMAs, County SWCDs, NRCS, Cities, and County Engineer/Secondary Road offices, and others to guide future projects and analyze potential conservation on the landscape.
Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Results
The map below shows the percent of potentially treated acres in each subwatershed. Subwatersheds in light-yellow have the most potential locations for implementation of water retention structures like ponds and WASCOBs. Subwatersheds with the highest potential are located in the southern half of the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed where the greatest flow reductions can be achieved according to the UWR Hydrologic Assessment.
When comparing results from the Iowa BMP Mapping Project and the ACPF tool, the greatest landowner participation has occurred in the Watsons Creek and Mead Creek Subwatersheds and others scattered throughout the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed. Landowner participation was lower in most of the other subwatersheds in the UWR Watershed. ACPF results showed the highest potential for implementation of flood reduction practices in most of the subwatersheds in the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed. ACPF results and the Iowa BMP Mapping Project can be used by County SWCDs, Counties, Cities, and landowners to target future subwatershed projects, and to see potential locations for implementation of flood reduction practices on their land.