Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the key indicators of healthy soil life, as it reflects the amount of organic matter present in the soil. Higher levels of organic matter in soils hold many benefits for crop production, including:
- Improving soil structure, thereby helping to curb erosion, reduce compaction, prevent surface crusting, as well as improving drainage and aeration of roots
- Improving the soil’s water-holding capacity
- Improving water infiltration
- Improving the soil’s nutrient retention capacity
- Stimulate micro- and macro-organism populations
Practices to improve and/or maintain SOC are explained under Code Requirement 2.4. It is recommended that management measure SOC levels when soils are sampled for analyses. The Walkley-Black method is the most common laboratory analysis used to determine SOC. The levels of SOC in soils should be compared over time to establish whether SOC is increasing or maintained at optimal levels.