Use the Financial and Nutrient Reduction Tool

The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework Financial and Nutrient Reduction Tool (ACPF FiNRT) is an ACPF-compatible tool that provides information about estimated costs and nitrate reduction outcomes from ACPF-generated conservation scenarios.

The use of this ACPF-compatible tool offers conservation planners the ability to examine opportunities and tradeoffs regarding BMPs more effectively on the landscape and offers information about potential outcomes from various conservation scenarios.

The tool is currently available in its beta version for Iowa and Minnesota. In addition to the toolbox, users may also download demo watersheds to try the tool.


The newly released beta version of the FiNRT tool is currently for Iowa and Minnesota. The team is currently in the early stages of adding additional states to the tool. If you are interested in more detailed information, reach out to the ACPF National Hub team.

Before you dive in, be sure to view the step-by-step FiNRT guide.

The team has also made two demonstration watersheds – one in Iowa and one in Minnesota – available for those interested in trying the tool and exploring how it works before using it on their own watersheds.


The tool uses financial and expected field-scale nitrate loss to estimate the total long-term cost and cost effectiveness of user-driven conservation plans.

  • Financial data for direct costs of best management practices (BMPs) were created by calculating long-term, annualized costs for BMP installation and management at the state level. Financial assessments for calculating direct costs incorporated enterprise budgets and standard discounted flow techniques.
  • Opportunity costs associated with BMPs that require removing land from row-crop production were calculated using state-relevant, area-weighted productivity indices associated with soil data and land rent relationships.
  • The tool quantifies the nitrogen requirements for each field, based on 6-year land-use data, and evaluates the proportion of that nitrogen likely to be lost from the field as nitrate via leaching. Based on BMP placement, nitrate reduction efficiencies for each BMP were applied to estimate nitrate reduction by BMP, field, and at the watershed scale.


The outputs from the tool include information such as opportunity acres and costs, direct costs, treated area, nitrate load and load reduction potential from conservation practice implementation, load reduction at field and watershed levels, total costs (direct costs + opportunity costs), and cost efficiency (cost per lbs. of N reduced per individual conservation practice and scenario). Output information can be examined at the BMP, field, or watershed level.

As an example, the image on the left displays the ACPF FiNRT analysis on the Middle South Fork Watonwan River watershed in Watonwan County,
Minnesota. The map displays how ACPF was used to site areas where nutrient
removal wetlands, bioreactors, and saturated buffers would be
suitable. Table 3, below displays the FiNRT results between scenario 1 – placing rye cover crops on all 10,116 ha of corn/soybean land in the watershed, and scenario 2 – which used the ACPF to illustrate a strategic conservation approach.

Map of the Middle South Fork Watershed in Iowa with conservation placements
Map of the Middle South Fork Watonwan River watershed with spatially targeted best management practice (BMP) placements. Targeted BMPs include bioreactors, nutrient removal wetlands, and saturated buffers. Image from the 2022 article on the FiNRT tool in the Journal for Environmental Quality.
FiNRT results for the South Middle Fork Watershed

More information on the FiNRT tool and it’s outputs is available in the 2022 Journal of Environmental Quality article on the ACPF Financial and Nutrient Reduction Tool.