Soil organic carbon

Soil organic carbon is the carbon (C) stored in soil organic matter (SOM). Organic carbon (OC) enters the soil through the decomposition of plant and animal residues, root exudates, living and dead microorganisms, and soil biota. SOM is the organic fraction of soil exclusive of nondecomposed plant and animal residues. Nevertheless, most analytical methods do not distinguish between decomposed and non-decomposed residues. SOM is a heterogeneous, dynamic substance that varies in particle size, C content, decomposition rate, and turnover time.

Data host: 

Joint Research Centre

Unit of Measurement: 

Percentage (%)

Description to get data: 

Go to, under Available Data click on "Download the Organic Carbon per Country" which opens a spread sheet with the values for each country.

Type of Indicator source: 

  • Intergovernmental Organisation