Comparing Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) practice placements for runoff mitigation and controlled drainage among 32 watersheds representing Iowa landscapes

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2020-01-01
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Tomer, Mark
Van Horn, Jessica
Niemi, Jarad
Porter, Sarah
James, David
Niemi, Jarad
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Precision conservation planning tools can use high-resolution data to identify conservation practice-placement options for watershed improvement plans. Use of these tools across multiple watersheds could help to identify regional conservation strategies. This study evaluated practice-placement options determined using the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) ArcGIS tools for controlled drainage (CD), contour buffer strips (CBS), water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and grassed waterways (GWWs) across 32 headwater hydrological unit code (HUC)12 watersheds in Iowa. The watersheds represented three Major Land Resource Areas (MLRAs) and four Agro-Hydrologic Landscape (AHL) classes, with four watersheds randomly chosen from each of eight combined MLRA-AHL landscape groupings. Placement options for the practices identified using the ACPF were quantified by watershed as densities (km km−2 of cropland) for GWWs, counts of proposed practice locations per square kilometer for CBS and WASCOBs, and as fractions of tile-drained land for CD. The influence of the landscape groupings on practice-placement densities among watersheds was tested using analysis of variance and contrast comparisons. Significant differences were found that led to nuanced interpretations. Differences attributed to slope steepness were captured by AHL classes, while differences attributed to slope shape and convergence were best captured by MLRA, which better segregated the watersheds based on landscape age and stream dissection. Grassed waterway placements showed minor differences among MLRAs but provided data to better inform the choices that ACPF users can make when running the GWW tool. The MLRA/AHL landscape classifications could be used together to develop effective regional conservation strategies using precision planning tools.

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This article is published as Tomer, M. D., J. D. Van Horn, S. A. Porter, D. E. James, and J. Niemi. "Comparing Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) practice placements for runoff mitigation and controlled drainage among 32 watersheds representing Iowa landscapes." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (2020). doi: 10.2489/jswc.2020.00001.

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