The organic soil matter includes all the dead plant material and all creatures, live and dead. The living component of an acre of soil may include 900 lb of earthworms, 2400 lb of fungi, 1500 lb of bacteria, 133 lb of protozoa and 890 lb of arthropods and algae.
Most living things in soils, including plants, insects, bacteria and fungi, are dependent on organic matter for nutrients and energy. Soils have varying organic compounds in varying degrees of decomposition. Organic matter holds soils open, allowing the infiltration of air and water, and may hold as much as twice its weight in water. Many soils, including desert and rocky-gravel soils, have little or no organic matter. Soils that are all organic matter, such as peat (histosols), are infertile. In its earliest stage of decomposition, the original organic material is often called raw organic matter. The final stage of decomposition is called humus.