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Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework

Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework

Photo by Sophie, Alec, Joey and Jake

Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework

Location: Farm near Bear Creek, Ames, IA
Featuring: Sarah Porter, Agricultural Science Technician, USDA/ARS

Can having the right map reduce flooding, mitigate dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, and increase a farmer’s profits?

The Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework offers a watershed approach to conservation planning that uses technical and software tools to help users generate detailed maps. A detailed terrain analysis helps identify areas which may contribute disproportionate amounts of nutrients, sediment, or runoff water to a water body, and the precise location for suitable and effective conservation practices to mitigate these concerns. The maps are then “ground-truthed” and used to promote discussions of watershed-scale interactions, even when working with individual landowners.

These conservation practices can include the installation of surface inlets in the depressions of cropped fields to drain surface water. By implementing grass buffers and sand-bed intakes around these depressions, less sediment and phosphorus loads leave the fields. Strips of grassy vegetation or grass waterways can be strategically planted where accumulated water flows to ditches or creeks to reduce the velocity of runoff, prevent gully formation, and increase soil strength to mitigate erosion. Contour buffers can be planted across slopes and along topographic contours to intercept water flows, reduce sheet and rill erosion, and keep soil up on the field.

ACPF was developed by Mark Tomer and his team at the USDA-ARS in Ames, IA.

“The ACPF provides options based on science, not regulations based on political or economic drivers.”

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