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Watershed databases for conservation planning


The planning process for improving water quality in agricultural watersheds requires identification of options that can meet water quality goals. Farmers will be most affected by plan implementation, and need to participate in watershed planning to ensure the option selected is feasible.

If specific information were available about many possible conservation options among all the farm fields in a watershed, it is possible that the watershed planning process and producer participation in planning could be more effective. Choices would be clearer and producers could better visualize how fields fit into a watershed context.

In the May-June issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality, a database that serves as a watershed planning resource for field-level application is described. The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) database comprises a soils, field boundary, and land-use database, and can be downloaded by HUC12 watershed. The database includes 2.1 million agricultural fields in the Midwest. The watershed datasets can be used with the ACPF ArcGIS toolbox, described in prior papers on the ACPF, to identify site-specific options for in-field, edge-of-field, and riparian conservation practices.

Read the full open access paper in JEQ. 

Note: This paper is the third in a series on this topic, read the first paper here, and second paper here