Botanical Difference Between Plant And Crop

Most farmers and agronomists often make the mistake of indiscriminately calling a plant a crop and a crop a plant; they are not the same at all; all crops are plants but not all plants are crops. There is a clear difference between plant and crop; plants and crops serve different purposes and importance. There is a difference between plant physiology and crop physiology; they have different requirements and conditions that facilitate their growth and performance.   

As a farmer or an agro-inclined individual, you really need to get things right so that you can communicate to a larger and diverse farming community in the best and standard expression. I used to indiscriminately use both plant and crop in my expression, thinking they both mean the same until I found this you are about to read. It is high time we got things right and used the right expression.

What is a plant in agriculture?

Plants and animals are what agriculture entails and not crops and animals. A plant is the compound name of all green matters; everything that has chlorophyll and can undergo photosynthesis is a plant.

Plants are called primary producer; they include all forms of green matter that grows on a soil or in a water body; grass, vine, shrub, tree, or an aquatic plant. Plants are indirectly economically important. All plants are beneficial to the ecosystem; they are vital for the well-being of people and the earth at large by:

  • Generating oxygen through a process called photosynthesis in the day time that we and other organisms breathe.
  • Biologically purifying water (canna plants) that we drink; controlling air, water, and soil pollution to keep our planet clean and healthy.
  • Serving as a food web for all kinds of organisms.
  • Maintaining biodiversity in our environment.

These are called ecological services that most plants provide us, but not economically valued in the modern world.

A plant is any green matter that is known or believed to exist but yet to be discovered or identified and domesticated or cultivated; there are several plants in the world but only a few have been discovered and domesticated or cultivated, more are still in the wild. There are lots of plants in the wild that are yet to be identified and named but they render the ecological services listed above.

As said above, all crops are plants but not all plants are crops; plants are wild because they are yet to be discovered or identified. A plant is known or believed to exist but yet to be identified and named.

What is a crop in agriculture?

A crop is a plant that has been discovered, named and domesticated or cultivated that provides us with a produce such as, grain, vegetables, fruits, fodder, timber, medicine, raw materials for industry, etc. that can be consumed, stored, processed for further economic or traded in the market as raw materials or as processed and value-added products in the community. A crop is any plant that is known and can be cultivated; crops are harvested as food for man and livestock but no plants.

Simply put, a crop is a domesticated plant.  Crops, not plants, are improved to increase their yields, quality, and enhance their market value. Crops are enhanced by adding various inputs such as irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. to boost their yields, performance, and quality of produce. Crops are directly important and are of great economic value because they are sources of livings, nourishment, medicine, and medium of exchange.

We cultivate crops and not plants; this is because we know the name and type of the crop we want to cultivate. In addition, we consume crops and not plants; this is because we know the name of what we eat. A crop can be identified, named and cultivated or domesticated.

Differences between a crop and a plant.

The main difference between plant and crop is that a crop can be identified and named but a plant has not been identified, domesticated, and named.

Any plant, which has been identified like maize, plantain, etc., and cultivated by humans with an intended purpose of having a beneficial output, can be called as a crop. Crops are sown and harvested for economic use. Crops can be categorized into several groups based on the purpose of cultivations.

We have agricultural crops, medicinal crops, horticultural crops and manure crops (legumes). Fruit crops, tree crops, and vegetables are classified under agricultural crops, and they are processed as food or directly consumed. In addition, the medicinal crops such as bitter leaf, ginger, garlic, scent leaf, etc., are used as herbs for curing or preventing bad health conditions.

However, any plant that grows under normal environmental conditions without having any control or interference by humans cannot be called as a crop but a plant. It is not known or identified for any economic purpose other than the ecological purpose it serves.   

Once a plant can be identified and named, it becomes a crop. The difference between crop and plant is the same as reserve and resources. All countries have one or more resources; when these resources are discovered, they become reserves. Reserves are known resources that can be identified and utilized but resources are known to exist but they are yet to be discovered and exploited.

Knowledge is dynamic; new things come up every second. We should always update our knowledge to stay relevant always. Remember to SHARE this to liberate others.

Read also: Difference Between Sweet Potato And Irish Potato

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