How do I convert an sf object back to a SpatialPolygonsDataFrame?

I am running R 3.4.0 and sf version 0.4.1. The sf documentation mentions an as_Spatial function, but this isn't available in my install (for some reason).

  • The coersion method is avalible at sf 0.4-1, what hapens when you try to call the function? May 4, 2017 at 2:39
  • 4
    as(sf, "Spatial")
    – mdsumner
    May 4, 2017 at 6:23
  • @Jeffrey Evans, Kazuhito's answer below replicates the problem (and provides a partial solition)
    – Simon
    May 4, 2017 at 8:04

2 Answers 2


I used

 as(nc, 'Spatial')

as part 2 of the vignette by Edzer Pebesma indicated (Scroll to the bottom of the page).

  • saw it. However I figured this out only recently and I felt the urge to put it into a proper answer when seeing this question ;)
    – andschar
    May 5, 2017 at 7:46
  • And it is important the accepted answer will not be overlooked by future readers.
    – Kazuhito
    May 6, 2017 at 2:05
  • 1
    For this to truly work like a SPDF, I needed to do something like: tmp <-as(nc, 'Spatial'), then tmpid <- sapply(slot(tmp, "polygons"), function(x) slot(x, "ID")) then row.names(tmp) <- tmpid
    – Simon
    May 15, 2017 at 11:50
  • 1
    what does 'truly work like a SPDF' mean? I see no disadvantage created by the conversion.
    – andschar
    May 15, 2017 at 14:16

I had to use sf:::as_Spatial() as workaround.

nc <- st_read(system.file("shape/nc.shp", package="sf"))

# sf -> sp
nc_sp <- as_Spatial(nc$geom)      # Error: could not find function "as_Spatial"

nc_sp <- sf:::as_Spatial(nc$geom) # This works

  • Is there a way to keep the dataframe intact?
    – Simon
    May 4, 2017 at 8:03
  • Running as(sf, "Spatial") by @mdsumner , I confirm it produces SpatialPolygonsDataFrame, which is better for your requirement. It seems as_Spatial() takes sfc (ie geometry) only.
    – Kazuhito
    May 4, 2017 at 8:08
  • 1
    This function is a method and is ment to be call using as(). It is not exported as a function object which is why, to call it directly, you need ":::". May 4, 2017 at 17:29
  • it seems the as() function is no longer in the sf package
    – mattador
    Aug 16, 2022 at 14:10
  • as_Spatial(nc) will keep the dataframe intact!
    – M--
    May 11, 2023 at 18:59

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