Pulses are defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as yearly leguminous crops yielding from one to twelve grains or seeds of variable size, shape and color surrounded by a pod. Pulses being used for food and animal feed.
The term pulses, as used by the FAO, are kept for crops harvested solely for the dry grain. This therefore excludes green beans and green peas, which are measured vegetable crops. Also barred crops which are mainly grown for oil extraction oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts, and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa).
Pulses are main food crops due to their high protein and necessary amino acid content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop turning round due to their capability to fix nitrogen.