Tips on getting component data from NASIS into R

D.E. Beaudette, J.M. Skovlin, S. Roecker

This tutorial is based on essential background material described in the soilDB and related NASIS ODBC connection tutorials. If you have not reviewed those tutorials, please do so before proceeding.

The functions and documentation described in this tutorial are still a work in progress.


The soilDB package contains a number of convenience functions (usually having a prefix of "fetch") for extracting data from commonly used databases, performing basic quality control checks, and returning the result as a SoilProfileCollection object. In order to simplify the process of stitching-together the many linked (and sometimes nested) tables associated with data in NASIS, convenience functions (e.g. fetchNASIS() or fetchNASIS_component_data()) must make a number of assumptions about the data. This document describes how those assumptions can be adjusted and how they may affect subsequent data analysis.

Component Data

Load up your local database and selected set with some components. NASIS queries should "target" the tables:

  • Component
  • Data Mapunit
  • Correlation
  • Mapunit
  • Legend Mapunit
  • Legend
  • Area

The most commonly used data from the data map unit, component, component horizon tables can be quickly loaded using the fetchNASIS_component_data() function.

# load required libraries

# get component + component horizon data as a SoilProfileCollection, using defaults
nc <- fetchNASIS_component_data()

The result is a SoilProfileCollection object and can be subset or visualized as such. Lets try extracting just the components with names that match the pattern "Amador".

# filter out just those components named "Amador"
idx <- grep('Amador', nc$compname, = TRUE)
nc.sub <- nc[idx, ]

# plot
plot(nc.sub, color='claytotal_r', label='dmudesc')
title(sub='Components named "Amador"', line=0)

There appear to be many duplicate components. This isn't surprising as a single component template is commonly shared among many map units. Lets filter out a unique subset of components based on horizon depth, horizon designation, and clay content.

# generate an index to unique components and subset
idx <- unique(nc.sub, vars=c('hzdept_r', 'hzdepb_r', 'claytotal_r', 'hzname'))
nc.sub.unique <- nc.sub[idx, ]

# plot the subset
plot(nc.sub.unique, color='claytotal_r',, n=length(nc.sub))
title(sub='Unique components named "Amador"', line=0)

Accessing Additional Types of "Component" Data

Linked Pedons

Sometimes it is convenient to know which pedons are linked to components. The following function returns a data.frame (table) of data containing component record IDs, pedon record IDs, and pedon IDs. This can be used to link the results of fetchNASIS_component_data() to the results of fetchNASIS() (pedon data). Lets assemble a list of all pedons linked to a component named "Amador", using the subset from above.

# get the full set of linked pedon data from the selected set
nc.linked.pedons <- get_copedon_from_NASIS_db()
# check format
coiid peiid pedon_id representative
1353433 64475 301S 0
1153779 64477 641I 1
1153793 64477 641I 1
1153792 64477 641I 1
1153791 64477 641I 1
1153790 64477 641I 1
# list just those pedons that are linked to our subset of components
# note that we are using the component record ID (coiid) to connect the two data sources
idx <- which(nc.linked.pedons$coiid %in% site(nc.sub)$coiid)
nc.linked.pedons[idx, ]
coiid peiid pedon_id representative
2172 1297566 158468 S04CA099-003 1
2173 1297559 158468 S04CA099-003 1
2712 2331927 542170 2012CA6303043 1
2716 2073965 620526 2012CA6304005 1

Map Unit, Correlation, Legend, Area Tables

The NASIS data elements that exist at levels higher than the data map unit table must be loaded with a different function because there isn't always a 1:1 mapping between data map unit objects and map unit / legend objects.

nc.correlation <- get_component_correlation_data_from_NASIS_db()
head(nc.correlation, 1)
muiid musym nationalmusym muname mukind mustatus muacres farmlndcl repdmu dmuiid areasymbol areaname survey_status cordate
325 1406634 121su 1j6q9 Columbia fine sandy loam, 0 to 2 percent slopes, frequently flooded consociation correlated 164 Not prime farmland 1 288917 CA612 Butte Area, California, Parts of Butte and Plumas Counties Published 2005-04-01

Lets tabulate the occurrence of components named "Amador" by soil survey area and component kind, using data loaded in the above examples.

# combine basic site data + correlation / legend data
# note that there is a 1:many relationship
nc.combined <- join(site(nc.sub), nc.correlation, by='dmuiid')

# cross-tabulate
xtabs( ~ areasymbol + compkind, data=nc.combined)
areasymbol/compkind series taxadjunct
CA067 2 0
CA628 1 0
CA630 5 0
CA632 0 2
CA644 4 0
CA648 3 0

Component Ecological Site Data

Details pending.

nc.esd <- get_component_esd_data_from_NASIS_db

Additional tutorials are available at the AQP project website.

Example Applications

These examples are still a work in progress. Detailed descriptions pending...

Check for DMU Linked to Multiple Map Units

There are some cases where a single DMU may be linked to multiple map units (such as...).


# re-load relevant data from NASIS: 
# just MU/DMU objects with components named "Amador"
nc <- get_component_data_from_NASIS_db()
idx <- grep('Amador', nc$compname, = TRUE)
nc.sub <- nc[idx, ]
nc.correlation <- get_component_correlation_data_from_NASIS_db()
nc.combined <- join(nc.sub, nc.correlation, by='dmuiid')

# extract edges of graph linking DMU --> MU
e <- na.omit(nc.combined[, c('dmuiid', 'nationalmusym')])

# create vertex attributes
v <- rbind(cbind(name=e[, 1], color='RoyalBlue', label.cex=0.75), cbind(name=e[, 2], color='Orange', label.cex=0.85))
v <-, stringsAsFactors = FALSE)
v$label.font <- 2
v$label.cex <- as.numeric(v$label.cex)

# optionally flag DMUs that connect to multiple MU
if(exists('', envir=soilDB.env)) {
  dupe.dmu <- get('', envir=soilDB.env)
  v$color[which(v$name %in% dupe.dmu)] <- 'Yellow' 

# create graph
g <-, directed=TRUE, vertices = unique(v))
V(g)$size <- 5

# check
plot(g, vertex.label.color='black','sans',  edge.arrow.size=0.5)
legend('bottomleft', legend = c('MU (national musym)', 'DMU (dmu description)', 'flagged DMU (dmu description)'),'Orange', 'RoyalBlue', 'Yellow'), pch=21, pt.cex=2, cex=0.85, bty='n')

Rank Component Records Based on Horizon Data Population

Rank data map units that contain a major component named "Amador" based on the degree to which component horizon data has been populated.

# re-load relevant data from NASIS:
# get the component data
nc <- get_component_data_from_NASIS_db()
# subset columns to those we are using
nc <- nc[, c('dmuiid', 'dmudesc', 'coiid', 'compname', 'comppct_r', 'majcompflag')]
# just MU/DMU objects with components named "Amador"
idx <- grep('Amador', nc$compname, = TRUE)
nc <- nc[idx, ]
# look only at major components for now
nc <- nc[which(nc$majcompflag == 1), ]

# get component horizon data
nc.hz <- fetchNASIS_component_data()
# subset the unique set of component IDs that have horizon data
nc.hz.coiids <- site(nc.hz)$coiid

# make a new column and fill with '0' when no horizon data present, '1' when horizon data present
nc$ <- 0
nc$[which(nc$coiid %in% nc.hz.coiids)] <- 1

# get correlation data and join to component data
nc.correlation <- get_component_correlation_data_from_NASIS_db()
nc.combined <- join(nc, nc.correlation, by='dmuiid', type='inner')

# tabulate components w/o hz data, w/ hz data, and total components
0 1 Sum
1 16 17
# compute weighted fraction of hz data populated using component pct
p <- ddply(nc.combined, 'dmudesc', function(i) {
  with(i, sum((comppct_r / 100) *, na.rm=TRUE)
names(p) <- c('dmudesc', 'frac.populated')

# re-order musym labels in increasing order of hz data populated
p$dmudesc <- factor(p$dmudesc, levels=p$dmudesc[order(p$frac.populated)])

dotplot(dmudesc ~ frac.populated, data=p, cex=1.25, ylab='DMU Description', xlab='Fraction Component Hz Data Populated', main='Major Components Named "Amador"', scales=list(x=list(alternating=TRUE, tick.number=10)), subset=dmudesc != 'NOTCOM National DMU', panel=function(...){
  panel.abline(v=seq(0, 1, by=0.1), col='grey')

Boring Details

Just kidding, this stuff matters.

Status and QC Messages

As part of the quality control process, a number of possible messages are printed to the console when running fetchNASIS_component_data(). These messages and their meaning are described below:

  • -> QC: horizon errors detected ... Horizon depths are checked for gaps, overlap, or bottom depths than are shallower than top depths. In most cases pedons flagged as having errors suggests a quality control issue. However, combination horizons (e.g. B/C) that have been entered as two distinct horizons sharing the same horizon depths will trigger this warning.

  • -> QC: DMUs assigned to multiple MU ... This message means that some data map units in the selected set have been used within several different map units.

  • -> QC: duplicate muiids: multiple 'representative' DMU / MU ... This message means that there may be several "representative" DMU assigned to a single map unit.

Adjusting the Defaults

Some of the assumptions made by fetchNASIS_component_data() can be adjusted using arguments to the function:

  • rmHzErrors = TRUE Setting this value to TRUE (the default) will enable checks for horizon depth consistency. Consider setting this argument to FALSE if you aren't concerned about horizon depth errors, or know that your selected set contains many combination horizons. Note that any records flagged as having horizon depths errors (rmHzErrors = TRUE) will be omitted from the data returned by fetchNASIS_component_data().

An increased level of verbosity in the quality control messages can be enabled by setting the option: options(soilDB.verbose=TRUE). This is not generally suggested, but may be useful if you are having difficulty loading data from NASIS.

This document is based on aqp version 1.9.5 and soilDB version 1.6.9.