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Crops in Agriculture: Types and Classifications

Agricultural crops are cultivated plants grown for the purpose of obtaining food, technical raw materials and fodder for livestock. Classification of different crop types is critical for any modern farming business. And satellite technology is one of the ways to do it effectively and efficiently. In this piece, we will go through different types of crops to see their characteristics and value and understand why it’s so important for farmers to choose and classify them right in the fields.

Classifying Crops According to their Use

Agricultural crops include cereals, legumes, fodder, oilseeds, essential oil plants, industrial crops, vegetables, medicinal plants, and more.


Cereal crops are the most important group of cultivated plants that produce grain, the main product of human nutrition, raw materials for many industries, and feeds for farm animals. That is why the choice often falls on them when choosing the type of crops in agriculture. Cereal crops are divided into bread crops and leguminous crops. Most bread grain crops (wheat, rye, rice, oats, barley, corn, sorghum, millet, etc.) belong to the botanical family of cereals; buckwheat — to the buckwheat family; flour amaranth — to the amaranth family. Grains of cereals contain a lot of carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, vitamins B, PP and provitamin A, which determines its high nutritional value for humans and value for fodder use.

Forage Crops

Fodder are the types of crops grown for animal feed. Fodder crops include perennial and annual fodder grasses (for grazing and green summer fodder, green mass for hay, haylage, silage, grass meal), silage crops (corn, sunflower, etc.), fodder root crops (beets, turnips, carrots), fodder melons (pumpkin, squash, watermelon).

Industrial Crops

These plants are the types of cash crops produced on an industrial scale for gaining maximum yields and profit. These include cotton and jute (fiber), sugarcane, and sugarbeat (sugar), coffee, and tea (drinks), opium, and tobacco (alkaloids/smoking). Coffee, tea, coconut, and rubber are also known as plantation crops.


Oilseeds are cultivated for the production of oils. Some of them are tropical trees (coconut, oil palm, cocoa, tung); others are herbaceous plants grown in countries with temperate climates (soybean, sunflower, rape, flaxseed, and others). Most oil-bearing crops accumulate fatty oil in the seeds and fruits, some in the tubers. Among them there are plants producing solid oils (palms, cocoa, waxwood) and liquid oils (olive, tung, herbaceous plants). In addition to oil-bearing crops, raw materials for the oil industry are the seeds of yarn crops (cotton, long-stalked flax, hemp), some essential oil-bearing plants (coriander, cumin, anise), the fruits of nut crops (walnut, almond, cedar pine). Fatty oil is also obtained from corn and wheat seeds. Soybean, peanut, sunflower, olive, rape, sesame, and castor oil are of major importance in the world of agriculture.


In botanical terms, vegetables are the edible parts of herbaceous plants. The culinary term “vegetable” can be applied to edible fruits, which in terms of botany are berries and fruits.

Vegetables are divided into the following groups:

  • Tuber crops: yams, potatoes;
  • Root vegetables: carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, parsley, parsnips, celery, horseradish;
  • Cabbage: white cabbage, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, broccoli;
  • Spices: dill, tarragon, savory, basil, marjoram;
  • Pumpkin: pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, patisson;
  • Legumes: eas, beans;
  • Grains: sugar corn;
  • Dessert – artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb.

Medicinal Plants

This is a broad group of plants, organs or parts of which are raw materials for obtaining medicine for therapeutic or preventive purposes. The most widely represented medicinal plants are aloe, cowberry, elecampane, calendula, callisia, cranberry, raspberry, mint, plantain, chamomile, licorice, yarrow, sage, and many others.

Life Cycle-Based Typology of Crops

All flowering plants are divided into three groups according to their biological characteristics: perennials, biennials, and annuals. Plants are called annuals, biennials, or perennials depending on how long they can live under natural conditions. Annuals and biennials include herbaceous plants, while perennials can include some grasses and all trees.

Annual And Biennial Plants

Annuals are plants whose life cycle from the moment they sprout from a seed to complete drying out lasts less than 12 months. During this period, they manage to acquire all the vegetative parts (stem, leaves, roots, etc.), as well as to produce flowers or seeds.

Mostly, this type includes terrestrial plants, which are found in places with highly variable seasons. Seeds are the only organ of reproduction for many annual species, as they do not reproduce vegetatively in the natural environment. These types of crop include most species of wheat, barley, and peas.

Biennial plants are those whose life cycle lasts more than 12 months, but does not exceed 24 months. In general, representatives of this type have one peculiarity of growth: in the first year they have leaves, stems and roots, and in the second year they begin to flower and give seeds. Examples of biennial plants are celery, some types of beets, some types of cabbage, parsley, and carrots.

Most species that are used as agricultural plants are not left alive for a second year because they are consumed as food.

Perennial Plants

These types of crops can take several decades to reach maturity. Not only trees, but also herbaceous species (e.g. bamboo or banana) can be perennial.  Tree species of this type grow to enormous sizes.  Perennials include oak, apricot, and cherry.

The longest-living plants on the planet — baobab and sequoias — can exist unchanged for several thousand years. In addition, the sequoia is considered the tallest of all plants.

How Satellite Technology Can Aid Crop Classification and Management

The requirement for continuous and accurate monitoring of crops growth and condition is of paramount importance for the wise use of agricultural resources and the management of potential yields. Technological advances in remote sensing have proven valuable for characterizing agricultural croplands on a field-to-region scale. Multispectral remote sensing shows great potential and can improve in the classification of different crop types, extract biophysical and biochemical contents, assess nutrient content and detect abiotic and biotic stresses. Remote sensing technology makes it possible to map different types of crops in terms of morphological and physiological characteristics.

Crop Type Classification With EOSDA

EOSDA is a company specializing in satellite imagery analytics. It offers a remote, fast, and easy way of classifying crops by applying AI-powered algorithms to satellite data. With the company’s farm software called EOSDA Crop Monitoring, different agricultural businesses can keep records of crop rotation and analyze its productivity on the platform. They can also collect and organize data on the types of crops grown in previous seasons, including sowing and harvesting dates. The company also offers custom crop classification solution based on combination of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data with optical imagery for the creation of a crop type map.