This rules of thumb guide provides a general outline of the functions and management of soil organic matter (SOM).

SOM refers to organic materials found in soil, including plant and animal residues at different decomposition stages. It is composed of a diverse array of organic compounds including carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and lignin. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and soil fauna break down these compounds.

The rules of thumb should be used with SOM results from soil tests, to monitor trends and to determine whether to change soil management to stabilise or improve SOM levels.