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Laboratory Data Mart Modernized

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USDA Modernizes Laboratory Data Mart to Help Improve Soil Conservation and Soil Science

Washington, D.C. – July 7, 2022 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces the release of an updated National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Lab Data mart website. The Lab Data Mart is also known as the “National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Soil Characterization” website.  It delivers laboratory results of soil samples analyzed by the National Soil Survey Center.

Quick facts:

  • The website of the Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory (KSSL) and the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) has been modernized. It is now more intuitive, making it easier to navigate and find information.
  • The historical method for querying lab data is still available.
  • A new process has been implemented for updating the lab data on a more regular basis.
  • Open-source databases and companion morphological data are now available. Nearly all the KSSL data and associated pedon data are available for download. You can download in several different database formats: SQLite, Access, GeoPackage and ESRI File Geodatabase.
  • The update uses a new, simplified, database model schema.
  • New data tables and columns are available.
  • Interactive metadata documentation is available for the new tables.
  • The previous web map has been replaced with an open-source, leaflet map that uses automated data.
  • The map now allows you to select custom areas and to download the data in a database format of your choice.
  • For the benefit of developers and data scientists, the lab tables are also available through the Soil Data Access (SDA) application and SDA web services. Custom SQL queries can be used to receive instant or e-mailed tabular results in xml, html, or text format. A suite of SDA web services is available to meet a variety of customer needs. The pedon data associated with the NCSS characterization data are not available through SDA.
  • The Mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy data displayed on the map are available for download.
Lab Data Mart Locator Ma

Figure 1. —The interactive map showing updated sampled data, geochemical data and mid infrared sites.

The map links to a national database of soil characterization data and allows you to locate soil samples and “pedons” that have been analyzed in the lab. A pedon is the smallest unit of soil containing all the soil horizons of a particular soil type. Laboratory data is available for over 60,000 pedons and is the result of nearly 60 years of fieldwork and laboratory analysis by the National Cooperative Soil Survey.  Historically, such laboratory information was aggregated into a soil survey report and only seen by a relatively few people, mostly scientists.  Now, these data is easily available to everyone.   Farmers, ranchers, researchers, and conservationists everywhere can take advantage of this valuable resource to support conservation, soil health, climate-change research, climate adaptation and climate-smart agriculture.

The update includes one of the largest libraries of Mid-Infrared (MIR) spectral data in the world.  Gathered by cutting-edge technology, this data will be used by climate-change scientists and researchers studying carbon sequestration, carbon credit programs and soil health.

The map shows the location of individual pedons. Clicking on the map enables you to access lab data about a pedon. Additional information about soil laboratory data is available from the NCSS Soil Characterization Basic Query website.

Image link to soil lab data mart Button Soil Data Access Documentation Image link to R and SoilDB Package
Laboratory Data Mart Website Link Lab Data via Soil Data Access and Webservices Query data from Lab Data Mart via Soil Data Access or local SQLite snapshot



The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated, “Healthy soils lay at the foundations of agricultural development, healthy and nutritious food production, and essential ecosystem services, which are crucial to our basic survival as well as our planet’s sustainable future.”

In response, Ron Sequeira Ph. D., Geospatial Information Officer and senior agency official for geospatial information at the USDA Office of the Chief Information Officer, stated "Indeed, at USDA, we understand that soil provides the very basis for our agricultural engine and sustainable natural landscapes.”  

He went on to describe the relation between healthy soils and soils data, saying “Critical to establishing resilient soil systems is understanding the information needed to support healthy soils.  USDA NRCS provides global leadership in the characterization of soils.  The data produced by NRCS along with its State and Federal cooperator networks provides the basis for conservation programs, climate-smart agriculture that leverage soil carbon capture and most important for soil management programs that assure the agricultural productivity that feeds America and the world.  In its latest release of its National Cooperative Soil Survey database, NRCS is giving state-of-the-science data products to be leveraged by researchers, ranchers, farmers, land managers and those who wish to advance resilient production systems.  The new system not only establishes high resolution, authoritative information about soils but has also developed streamlined ‘data pipelines’ to ensure that data is provided with accuracy and speed.  Even as it releases its latest customer and public-facing soils data products, USDA FPAC NRCS is already working on increasing the coverage, resolution, and integration of new soil data attributes in the near future.  The agency looks forward to hearing from USDA’s stakeholders as it seeks to maximize the impact of its data in driving America’s top priorities for agricultural productivity and long-term resilience."

Lab Data Mart User Interface
Lab Data Mart Locator Map

“The updated website and map give people nationwide a means to view data that can be used by educators, scientists, farmers, landowners, schools, soil judging teams, the general public and more,” said Aaron Lauster, NRCS Conservation Planning Branch Chief.

The updated tool can assist scientists in developing conservation models that validate outcomes of conservation practices. You can pinpoint spots using location panels, full-screen maps and latitude and longitude. “Our new interactive map provides online access to our rapidly growing collection of lab data,” explained Skye Wills, National Leader for Soil Science Research.

Soil scientists, hydrogeologists, municipal water-utility operators, and water-quality regulators use lab data to understand the subsurface. The data viewer includes over 60,000 individual soil samples from across the world. Soil-sample data can also be viewed in reports.

The website lets you select different base maps; add maps of soil-color by depth; search by location, soil series or geographic location; download data to be used in other applications; search using filters and the search bar and stream from Soil Data Access web services. Popups for each pedon include several lab reports.