OCTOP: Topsoil Organic Carbon Content for Europe

Soil organic carbon, the major component of soil organic matter, is extremely important in all soil processes. Organic material in the soil is essentially derived from residual plant and animal material, synthesised by microbes and decomposed under the influence of temperature, moisture and ambient soil conditions. The annual rate of loss of organic matter can vary greatly, depending on cultivation practices, the type of plant/crop cover, drainage status of the soil and weather conditions. There are two groups of factors that influence inherent organic matter content: natural factors (climate, soil parent material, land cover and/or vegetation and topography), and human-induced factors (land use, management and degradation).

At the European level, there is a serious lack of geo-referenced, measured and harmonised data on soil organic carbon available from systematic sampling programmes. The European Soil Database, at a scale of 1:1,000,000, is the only comprehensive source of data on the soils of Europe harmonised according to a standard international classification (FAO). At the present time, the most homogeneous and comprehensive data on the organic carbon/matter content of European soils remain those that can be extracted and/or derived from the European Soil Database in combination with associated databases on land cover, climate and topography.

The Soil Portal makes available the Maps of Organic carbon content (%) in the surface horizon of soils in Europe. The data are in ESRI GRID format and are available as an ASCII raster file or in native ESRI GRID format. In addition, an interactive application allows the user to navigate in the Organic Carbon data with OCTOP Map Server and print his own customized map. The list of authorised codes and their corresponding meanings is given in the following table:

Organic carbon content (%)
Value Ranges
0 - 0.01
0.01 - 1.00
1.0 - 2.0
2.0 - 6.0
6.0 - 12.5
12.5 - 25.0
25.0 - 35.0
> 35.0

Data ownership
European Commission, Joint Research Centre.
Publication Date
Raster Data
environmental resources, protection and conservation. Examples: environmental pollution, waste storage and treatment, environmental impact assessment, monitoring environmental risk, nature reserves, landscape


Attribute Name Label Description

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  • Note: Displayed data might have been re-sampled; please visit esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu or the direct link here below to download source data.
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