Download ACPF

The ACPF is intended for intermediate to advanced GIS users who are familiar with Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Users should be comfortable with geodatabase naming and storage, editing procedures, geoprocessing tools, multiple data formats, and basic spatial troubleshooting. In addition, anticipate roughly two days of practice and training to become an effective user. Find ACPF training and support resources.

To use ACPF, you’ll need ArcGIS and TauDEM software, the ACPF toolbox, ACPF core data, and elevation of DEM data.

The ACPF National Hub is pleased to announce the release of the updated ACPF database and Version 5 of the ACPF toolbox! Updates include compatibility with ArcGIS Pro Versions 3.0 and above, updated ACPF core data to reflect 2022 land use and soils data, and a number of new watersheds – bringing us to a total of 12,211 watersheds.

The new version – Version 5 – of the ACPF Toolboxes includes:

  • A new two-stage ditch tool included in the Riparian Assessment Toolbox
  • A suite of Soil Vulnerability Index tools to identify the most vulnerable areas of the landscape to surface and subsurface losses
  • A new query (drainage class) for the Tile-Drainage Classification tool, and a new Drainage Index field
  • Bug fixes and ArcGIS Pro Version 3.0 compatibility
  • A new user’s manual accompanying the ACPF toolbox as a training and reference resource
  • Updated Utilities Suite for creating your own core data including a ‘Get US Roads’ tool
  • Change several tools to insure consistent use of acres as the areal reporting units

A summary of the changes to the ACPF Version 5 toolbox can be found here. Please note, the ACPF Version 5 toolbox uses the new Esri Pro 3.x toolbox structure (.atbx) that is not compatible with earlier versions of Pro (Pro 2.x).  Users with ArcGIS Pro version 2.x should use version 4.0 of the ACPF Toolbox. Minimal testing has produced satisfactory results for use with ArcMap Desktop versions 10.7 and 10.8 using the Desktop version of the ACPF Toolbox version 4.0, also available for download.

Also note, this year’s ACPF Core Database has been updated to use a recent version of the USGS WBD (2022) watershed boundary feature class. The USGS Watershed Boundary Database (WBD) is updated quarterly and includes name changes and changes to the spatial data as well. For the ACPF Core Database, nearly 250 watersheds have been updated to reflect these USGS changes. The ACPF watershed changes can be found here.


Conservation Planners
Conservation planners who work with communities to develop watershed plans and proposals, as well as work with producers one-on-one can use this tool within the 9-Step Conservation Planning Process. ACPF results can be provided for conservation planners to use to work with producers within a watershed on a field-by-field basis to tackle larger watershed goals. Watershed output training [hyperlink] is available for planners to use the ACPF in professional application.

GIS Specialists
Intermediate to advanced GIS users who are familiar with Esri’s ArcGIS platform can run the ACPF tool. GIS Users users should be comfortable with geodatabase naming and storage, editing procedures, geoprocessing tools, multiple data formats, and basic spatial troubleshooting. In addition, anticipate roughly two days of practice and training to become an effective user. To run ACPF, you’ll need ArcGIS and TauDEM software, the ACPF toolbox, ACPF core data, and elevation data. Technical training is available for GIS users.

With support from NRCS Headquarters, the National Hub for the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework is now offering ACPF particularly to State NRCS offices across the US.

There are also a number of partners that are available for hire to run the ACPF and provide technical consulting services. While The ACPF National Hub does not endorse these organizations, we have compiled a list of consultants and their contact information for your convenience.


ACPF Version 5 is now available and compatible with Esri’s ArcGIS versions ArcGIS Pro 3.x. ACPF Version 4 is remains available and compatible with Esri’s ArcGIS versions 10.5-10.8.2 and ArcGIS Pro 2.7-2.9. To run ACPF, an advanced version of ArcGIS with the Spatial Analyst Extension is required.

Find out more about ArcGIS on their website.

TauDEM is a suite of tools for the extraction and analysis of hydrologic information from topography. The ACPF is compatible with TauDEM 5.3.7. To run ACPF, TauDEM 5.3 Complete Windows Installer is also needed.

Download TauDEM at no cost through Utah State University.

An Example of an ACPF result


The GIS toolbox analyzes high-resolution land use, soil and terrain data and generates results that identity a menu of possible locations for a variety of conservation practices within fields, below fields and riparian zones. Included in the toolbox are practice placement tools that can be tailored to the setting of your individual watershed. Save the download zip file to a local file location on your computer and read the “installation instructions” text file that is included.

The various toolsets allow users to:

Process (or hydro-condition) a watershed’s high-resolution topographic data for terrain analyses

Determine which fields within a watershed are most prone to contribute runoff to streams

Map opportunities for riparian management

The ACPF toolsets identify placement opportunities for controlled drainage (drainage water management), surface intake filters or restored wetlands for topographic depressions, grassed waterways, contour buffer strips, water and sediment control basins, nutrient removal wetlands, edge of field bioreactors, and saturated riparian buffers. The ACPF toolbox also includes a User’s Manual with detailed explanations of the basis for each tool and how to adjust the parameters for your landscapes.


The USDA provides soil and land use data through the ACPF Core Database.

The database include:

  • Agricultural field boundaries
  • Land use and field-specific crop rotations, based on the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Cropland Data Layer
  • Soils data extracted from the NRCS gSSURGO soils database

Currently,  ACPF has core data for Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and portions of Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota.

Interested in ACPF but ACPF core data isn’t available for your area? Using the ACPF Utilities Suite you can create your own ACPF care data complete with watershed boundaries, field boundaries, elevation, soils and land use data and run the ACPF tools anywhere in the conterminous United States.

To create your own geodatabase, watch Lecture 29 in the ACPF training videos or check out our newly developed Story Map.  Both resources take you step by step through using the ACPF Utilities Suite within ACPF Version 3 to create your own ACPF geodatabase.


A key data requirement for many of the ArcGIS tools is a high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM), typically derived from light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor surveys. The horizontal map unit of the DEM must be in meters, although any horizontal or vertical resolution is accepted. A horizontal resolution of 2 or 3 meters has been found to be effective, as higher resolution does not improve output quality and substantially increases processing time. The ACPF toolbox also requires that all input layers be in the same projection. The ACPF core data is maintained in a Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection, with UTM zones being determined by the centroid location of the watershed boundary of each HUC12. The DEM should extend beyond the watershed boundary enough (e.g. 1,000 meters) to ensure coverage of all fields that may lie only partly within the watershed.

DEM data for many states is available through state agencies or universities. For example, Iowa DEM data is available through the Iowa State University GIS Facility and Minnesota DEM data is available through the Minnesota DNR.

Not sure where to find your state’s DEM data? Ask the ACPF Forum.  The ACPF Forum is a Google Group of ACPF users from around the region where you can share results, ask questions, and report issues. This is also a great way to find out about ACPF updates. You can also find out about ACPF updates through the ACPF mailing list where we email out the latest ACPF news and events. Subscribe to our mailing list.