Saving Chunks of SSURGO Data in SoilWeb for Google Earth

June 28, 2011

(This article was first published on dylan's blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

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SoilWeb is an interactive, multifaceted interface to USDA-NCSS soil survey information. Our SoilWeb application for Google Earth streams soil map units and point data as you navigate across the lower ’48 states. Currently, our system imposes a 30,000 ac. limit (defined by the Google Earth viewport) for streaming detailed soil survey (SSURGO) map unit boundaries. This limit, combined with a 2 second delay before streaming is initiated, helps to reduce CPU load on our server. When viewing landscapes from directly overhead the 30,000 ac. limit is usually sufficient for most soils investigations. However, tilting the camera for oblique views of the landscape (an excellent way of visualizing soil-landscape relationships) causes the viewport to encompass much larger areas, usually exceeding SoilWeb’s limit for detailed linework. The solution to this problem is summarized below, and can also be used to save “chunks” of detailed soil survey information for later use or offline browsing.

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