Crop Science

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The science of plant cultivation (science of plant cultivation) is the teaching and research area of ​​the production processes of agricultural crops.

About the terminology

The name Crop Science arose in the middle of the 20th century in connection with the scientification of numerous disciplines at universities. According to this modern terminology, crop science is the comprehensive technical term for agricultural and horticultural crop production or for the traditional discipline terms used synonymously arable , plant production and horticulture .

Viewed from the methodology and the areas of responsibility here, are vegetable growing , fruit growing , viticulture , medicinal crops , ornamental plants , vegetation management , forestry , tropical crops and other specialized cultivation disciplines also Agronomy. Most of these subject areas, however, have developed into independent sub-plant cultivation sciences and often supplemented their traditional technical terms with the word "science" (e.g. fruit cultivation science, grassland science).

Research tasks

The main task of agricultural crop production is to generate quantitative and qualitative optimal yields of food and raw materials and at the same time to maintain or improve the soil fertility of the cultivated areas. In the past few decades, questions of ecosystem research and environmental protection have come to the fore.

Crop production research is primarily field research carried out using scientific methods. Trial fields or sub-areas of an agricultural region are the actual laboratories for the crop scientist. Crop production as a scientific discipline comprises two sub-areas: General crop production and special crop production.

General crop production includes the entire field of arable farming, i.e. location knowledge , soil fertility , climate , weather , land use systems , crop rotations , soil cultivation , fertilization , weed control , disease and pest control, cultivation and harvesting methods in their effects on the yield of the cultivated crops.

In the special cultivation of crops , the actual cultivation methods of the useful plants are the subject of scientific studies.

Crop production research is currently in a state of upheaval. Crop science as an interdisciplinary integrative subject is turning to new focuses. Examples from current research are the quantification of material and energy flows in arable farming systems, the use of sensor-controlled agricultural machinery for the care of crops, the biomass potential and its possible uses, the development of remote sensing methods, the effects of plant-building measures in groundwater protection areas, the nutrient discharge in agricultural areas Operation and optimization of environmentally friendly cultivation and management systems.

Discipline history

The early history of crop science is embedded in the history of the development of agriculture. In 1727, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I had chairs for camera science set up at the universities in Frankfurt / Oder and Halle / Saale . The aim of the camera studies offered there should be to train professionally qualified civil servants. The subjects taught also included agriculture.

The decisive pioneer for the development of crop production into a university discipline was the camera scientist Johann Beckmann, who teaches at the University of Göttingen . In 1767 he introduced the word plant cultivation into written German. Previously, only the terms arable farming , field cultivation or agriculture were used for this part of agriculture . However, crop production was only one subject in the camera course. Plant cultivation research on an experimental basis was not carried out at the universities at that time.

It was not until after 1800 that Albrecht Daniel Thaer changed this research-poor time with his new conception of a rational agricultural theory. Following his example, agricultural academies were founded in many parts of Germany and field trials were carried out in the farms there . With the adoption of scientific knowledge and methods, crop cultivation became more and more an experimental discipline. From 1840 onwards, it was mainly the fertilization of cultivated plants with mineral nutrients, propagated by Carl Sprengel and Justus von Liebig , and the associated fertilization experiments, which determined the content and methodology of plant cultivation research.

The establishment of agricultural university institutes in the last third of the 19th century strengthened the position of the subject of crop production in the system of agricultural science. Due to the strong increase in knowledge, however, a subject-specific breakdown of the traditional teaching areas took place in the following decades. After the end of the First World War, independent chairs and institutes for crop production were established at the universities. Subareas previously belonging to this specialist area, above all plant breeding , began to become independent.

This tendency towards specialization continued rapidly after the Second World War. From the parent discipline of crop production, further sub-areas developed into independent subsidiary disciplines with corresponding teaching and research facilities. A field of study “ plant production ” emerged in the course of agriculture . Depending on the place of study, the most important subject areas are represented in addition to agricultural crop production: plant breeding , plant nutrition , phytomedicine , agricultural soil science , grassland management (today: grassland science ) and, for the past two decades, organic farming . Within this diversified “family of disciplines”, the traditional science of crop production has become one subject among many in agricultural studies.

Recent developments

Crop science, once the leading ecological discipline within agricultural sciences, has suffered significant functional losses over the past few decades. In addition to the reduced status in agricultural studies, there is also the fact that most of the specialist representatives were very reluctant to take up the ideas of organic farming in the 1980s. For this reason, many core areas of expertise in crop production are currently being carried out by newly established research institutions in organic farming and by other environmentally-related specialist areas. Many of the chairs for crop production that have become vacant have not been filled again. Most of the plant cultivation institutes in the agricultural science faculties have been integrated into newly created larger administrative units (e.g. in departments for crop science) in recent years .

Within the specialist society of plant cultivation, the " Society for Plant Cultivation Sciences " founded in 1956, the fundamental self-image as well as the goals and tasks of the discipline have been discussed repeatedly over the past decade. A position paper published in 2001 entitled Status and Future of Crop Science at Universities provides an overview of the current problems in research and teaching under the changing framework conditions .

In recent times in particular, the importance of medicinal plant cultivation has increased in the field of crop science.

Textbooks and manuals

Textbooks and manuals provide the best overview of the content and systematics of a scientific discipline. Older standard works of crop production are not only documents on the scientific history of the field, they still provide suggestions for current research and teaching even after decades. Since knowledge of plant cultivation is often only gained through long-term field tests, the half-life of knowledge of plant cultivation is relatively long . The outstanding German-language textbooks and handbooks on crop science that have been published since the middle of the 20th century include a .:

  • Ernst Klapp : Textbook of arable and crop production . Verlag Paul Parey Berlin 1941, 2nd edition 1944, 3rd edition 1951, 4th edition 1954, 5th edition 1958, 6th edition 1967.
  • Plant cultivation theory . Published by Arnold Scheibe . Handbook of Agriculture 2nd ed., Vol. 2. Verlag Paul Parey Berlin 1953.
  • Erich Rübensam and Kurt Rauhe : Agriculture . VEB Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag Berlin 1964, 2nd edition 1968.
  • Manfred Seiffert : Agricultural crop production . VEB Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag Berlin 1964, 2nd edition 1968.
  • Rudolf Koblet : Agricultural crop production with special consideration of Swiss conditions . Birkhäuser Verlag Basel and Stuttgart 1965.
  • Kord Baeumer : General crop production . Verlag Eugen Ulmer Stuttgart 1971, 2nd edition 1978, 3rd revised a. extended edition 1992 = UTB-Taschenbuch vol. 18.
  • Walther Brouwer : Handbook of special crop production . Verlag Paul Parey Berlin and Hamburg Vol. 1 1972, Vol. 2 1976.
  • Gerhard Fischbeck , Klaus-Ulrich Heyland and Norbert Knauer: Special crop production . Verlag Eugen Ulmer Stuttgart 1975, 2nd ed. 1982, 3rd revised and edited a. extended edition with Wulf Diepenbrock as first author 1999 = UTB-Taschenbuch vol. 111.
  • Gerhard Geisler : Crop production. A textbook - biological principles and techniques of plant production . Publishing house Paul Parey Berlin and Hamburg 1980, 2nd revised a. expanded edition 1988.
  • Plant cultivation manual . Editors of the complete works: Ernst Robert Keller, Herbert Hanus and Klaus-Ulrich Heyland. Publisher Eugen Ulmer Stuttgart. Vol. 1: Basics of agricultural crop production 1997; Vol. 2: Grains and forage grasses 2008; Vol. 3: Tubers and root crops, grain and fodder legumes 1999; Vol. 4: Oil fruits, fiber plants, medicinal plants and special crops 2006.
  • Textbook of plant cultivation . Edited by Norbert Lütke Entrup and Jobst Oehmichen. Vol. 1: Basics; Vol. 2: Cultivated Plants. Publishing house Th. Mann Gelsenkirchen 2000.
  • Wulf Diepenbrock , Frank Ellmer and Jens Léon: Agriculture, crop cultivation and plant breeding . UTB Vol. 2629 - Basic Knowledge Bachelor. Verlag Eugen Ulmer 2005.


  • Kurt von Rümker : The systematics and methodology of modern agricultural plant production theory . In: Fühlings Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung vol. 60, 1911, pp. 409-421.
  • Ernst Klapp: On the problems of arable and crop production . Lecture at a meeting of the "Plant Production" working group of the German Society for Agricultural Sciences on October 2, 1951 in Göttingen - first published as a brochure: Auretim Verlag Göttingen 1994.
  • Eduard von Boguslawski : To the problem of crop science . In: Zeitschrift für Acker- und Pflanzenbau Vol. 116, 1963, pp. 215-230.
  • Wolfgang Böhm : The discipline names for the subject crop production in the development history of the agricultural sciences . In: Journal of Agricultural History and Agricultural Sociology Vol. 37, 1989, pp. 1–8.
  • Wolfgang Böhm: Introduction to the history of science in crop production . Triade-Verlag E. Claupein Göttingen 1990.
  • Wolfgang Böhm: Plant cultivation as a science and art teaching . In: Aims and ways of research in crop production. Festschrift for Kord Baeumer on his 65th birthday. Edited by Wolfgang Böhm. Triade-Verlag E. Claupein Göttingen 1991, pp. 205-213.
  • Volker Klemm : Agricultural Sciences in Germany. History - tradition. From the beginning until 1945 . Scipta Mercaturae Verlag St. Katharinen 1992 (so far the only presentation of the history of crop science integrated in a standard work on the history of the entire agricultural sciences).
  • Kord Baeumer: Thoughts on a decision-oriented plant cultivation theory . In: Reports on Agriculture Vol. 72, 1994, pp. 493-511.
  • Wolfgang Böhm: Contributions to the scientific understanding of crop production. A bibliographic guide . Auretim Verlag Göttingen 1996.
  • Status and future of crop science at universities . Results of a workshop on the 19th and March 20, 2001 in Wittenberg. Published by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Society for Crop Science, o. O. uo J. (2001).
  • Matthias Langensiepen and Ruprecht Herbst: Crop science as an interdisciplinary research area between the natural sciences and the human sciences - memorandum Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2008, ISBN 978-3-86004-215-1
  • Crop Science (Journal)

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Wachendorf, Bernd Honermeier, Ralf Pude, Hans-Peter Piepho, N. Lamersdorf: The Society for Crop Science (GPW) announces: AG Remote Sensing Methods in Crop Science, AG Medicinal and Spice Plants, AG Renewable Raw Materials, in the future: Medicinal Plants and Renewable Raw Materials, Research Group, Agroforestry, Grassland & Forage Production, Young Crop Science . January 1, 2019, doi : 10.5073 / JfK.2019.11.03 ( [accessed April 27, 2020]).
  2. Michael Dachler and Helmut Pelzmann: Medicinal and Spice Plants: Cultivation Harvest Processing. Cadmos, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-8404-8306-6 .
  3. Hans-Herrmann Heyland: Handbuch des Pflanzenbau 4: Oil fruits, fiber plants, medicinal plants and special crops. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-8001-3203-4 .