Difference Between Agriculture and Horticulture

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Agriculture and Horticulture

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Horticulture and agriculture are two words that we are all familiar with. However, most of us are unaware that these words are not interchangeable and that each has its own specific characteristics. You might be considering a career in agriculture or want to learn more about crop cultivation. In any case, you might be curious about the distinction between horticulture and agriculture.

Horticulture is primarily concerned with researching, managing, and developing produced food crops and other plants. Agriculture, on the other hand, is the science of cultivating crops and rearing livestock for the purpose of farming. It is large-scale and takes place across a vast range of farmland.

Although they are both essentially the same thing, there are a few differences between them. Please continue reading to learn more about horticulture and agriculture and their distinct traits. Then, let's get started discussing the distinctions between these two.

Agriculture vs Horticulture

While classed as a subset of agriculture that deals with plant gardening, Horticulture is distinct from agriculture. Because some of the techniques used in both sciences are interchangeable, connecting the two is easy. For example, many horticulture procedures are utilized in the growing of crops, which is an agricultural operation. Therefore, horticulture is both a science and an industry in and of itself.

Horticulture is defined in the strict sense as the study of cultivating plants using specialized techniques and methods, such as soil preparation for seed planting or tuber planting. Horticulture encompasses cultivation, plant propagation, plant breeding, crop production, plant physiology, biochemistry, and genetic engineering, among other things. Vegetables, trees, flowers, turf, bushes, fruits, and nuts are among the plants examined. Horticulturists conduct considerable research in their field to improve agricultural yields, increase human nutritional value, produce pest and disease-resistant crops, and adapt to environmental challenges. The most prominent distinction between horticulture and agriculture is that horticulture involves small-scale gardening, usually in enclosed gardens, though this is not required, whereas agriculture involves large-scale crop farming.

Agriculture is the science of raising livestock and growing food crops. It refers to the entire web of operations involved in redirecting the natural flow of the food chain and rerouting energy. The sun provides sunlight to plants, which is subsequently transformed into sugars, which are then digested into plant food in a process known as photosynthesis. Carnivores eat herbivores, whereas herbivores eat carnivores. Bacteria break down dead animals and plants, which return to the soil as plant nutrients, and the cycle begins again. Although plants can be grown expressly for animal (herbivore) use, such as cattle, which is then reared for human food, agriculture actually rearranges this web to protect plants for human consumption. Agriculture is classified into two types: conventional agriculture and sustainable agriculture. Traditional agriculture focuses on changing environmental elements such as trees, soil tilling, irrigation, and all actions that encourage single crop production, particularly for wheat, rice, and maize. Agriculture that follows ecological principles is known as sustainable agriculture. Agroecology is another name for it. It attempts to promote environmentally friendly farming methods. It entails growing a range of crops together to ensure that the farming garden is never bare.

Difference Between Agriculture and Horticulture in Tabular Form

Basis of Comparison Agriculture Horticulture
Scale of operation Large scale Small scale
Budgeting Usually, agriculture costs more than horticulture Horticulture usually is less expensive
Activities Irrigation, cattle farming, rearing, etc. Garden cultivation, growing fruits, and vegetables domestically, maintenance of such a garden, etc.
Subsidies Subsidies by various governments

 boost agriculture

Contributions are not as frequent as they may be in agriculture
Occupation vs. hobby Agriculture is mainly taken up as an occupation by people Horticulture opts for work as well as leisure
Output/yield Agriculture yields a higher output Less work, as compared to agriculture

What is Agriculture?

Agriculture is a broad phrase that refers to the process of growing plants as well as raising livestock and poultry. Its primary goal is to supply food for human consumption as well as other basic human needs like clothing and medicine. It's also employed to get a high yield. Agriculture is the science of raising food crops and caring for farm animals. It encompasses the whole technique for directing the natural flow of the food chain and diverting energy. The sun is the starting point for the raw food network. Plants take sunlight, and then it is transformed into sugars, which act as plant nourishment through a process known as photosynthesis. Herbivores consume plants as food, whereas predators consume herbivores. Bacteria decompose dead animals and plants, which return to the soil as nutrients, and the process is repeated in a chain. Agriculture restores the food web by allowing plants to be used for human consumption. Plants can, however, be planted expressly for herbivores as food, much like cattle, and then raised for human consumption. Ordinary agriculture and renewable agriculture are the two types of agriculture. Traditional agriculture entails restoring some environmental features such as trees, soil plows, and soaking and all actions that promote single crop production, primarily for wheat, rice, and maize. The ecological philosophy of farming is known as renewable agriculture. Agroecology is another name for it. Its purpose is to develop farming applications that can be sustained. It entails planting a variety of crops at different times to ensure that the plowed garden is never empty.

Characteristics of Agriculture 

Seedling, transplanting, tilling, and other cultivation procedures are used in agriculture. Agriculture has the following characteristics:

  • Traditional Manufacturing Techniques

Agricultural production methods include the employment of various machines, tools, and irrigation systems. Traditional methods are also far more time-consuming.

  • Chemical Substances in Use

Farmers commonly employ different types of fertilizers and pesticides nowadays to increase the quality of their crops. These compounds promote plant growth while also protecting them from dangerous pests and insects.

  • Production Cost

The cost of producing crops may fluctuate due to variations in transportation, labor, energy, and raw materials prices.

  • Seasonal Variability of Production

Most agricultural products are harvested seasonally, and a few factors, such as environmental pressures that impact supply and demand, may influence their variability.

What is Horticulture?

Horticulture refers to the science or practice of cultivating and maintaining gardens. Plant cultivation science, technology, and business are all included. Horticulture is an agricultural branch that deals with the cultivation, marketing, and technology of a wide range of plant species. Root crops, fruits, vegetables, trees, herbs, decorative plants, medicinal plants, grass, seaweeds, and algae are all included in its ambit. During their studies, horticulture students frequently study nursery management, ornamental horticulture, landscape horticulture, and urban forestry. Its strategy delivers food, human consumption products, economic gain, and environmental development. It's also known as "gardening" on occasion.

On the other hand, Horticulture is commonly considered a subcategory of agriculture that deals with plant gardening. It is distinct from agriculture, although it is simple to connect the two because involved techniques are interchangeable in both operations, such as crop cultivation, which is an agricultural approach, and numerous horticulture procedures. Horticulture is a comprehensive agricultural approach. Horticulture is also defined as a science that employs specialized techniques and strategies for cultivating plants and methods for seed and tuber planting. Horticulture encompasses cultivation, plant propagation, plant breeding, crop production, plant physiology, biochemistry, and genetic engineering. Vegetable trees, flowers, bushes, fruits, and nuts make up most of the vegetation. Horticulturists do large-scale research in their profession to improve agricultural yields, improve human nutrition, make crops pest and disease resistant, and regulate environmental pressures.

Characteristics of Horticulture

In this section, we'll look at some of the unique characteristics of horticulture.

  • Application of Modern Technology

As previously noted, specific technology and procedures are commonly employed in horticulture to boost crop output.

  • High Value and High Input

Horticulture is more likely to produce higher-quality crops since it involves scientific study.

  • Intensive management

Before horticulturists may work in the field, they must first complete special training. As a result, horticulture necessitates considerable management, particularly while handling and preserving crop quality.

  • Capital Intensive 

Building and maintaining greenhouses, equipment, and other necessary facilities and resources requires significant capital expenditure.

  • Production Variety

Horticulture is concerned with not only food crops but also ornamental plants.

Differences Between Horticulture and Agriculture in Points

  • One of the most notable differences between horticulture and agriculture is that horticulture involves small-scale gardening, usually in enclosed areas. Furthermore, initiatives for higher-quality crop yields, enhanced nutritional value, pest and disease resistance, and the ability to adapt to environmental pressures are being developed. Horticulturists conduct substantial research in their specialty as a result.
  • Horticulture improves the quality of life by preserving and supplying nutritious food and beautifying communities. Arboriculture, turf management, floriculture, landscape horticulture, Olericulture, Pomology, Viticulture, Oenology, and Postharvest physiology are just a few of the disciplines and scopes covered by horticulture. Each of them is responsible for a specialized domain, such as overall plant production, processing, development, marketing, and maintenance. Plant propagation and plant breeding are also included in the scope of horticulture.
  • Agriculture, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the production of food crops, cattle, and other raw materials. It is frequently carried out on a vast scale and in a variety of sectors. Crop production and processing are also heavily reliant on agricultural machinery and irrigation infrastructure. Farmers are more likely to use fertilizers and pesticides to boost crop output quality.
  • Agronomy, plant breeding, including biotechnology, entomology, plant pathology, and plant and soil chemistry are all essential aspects of agriculture. It includes not just crop cultivation but also animal farming, such as beekeeping, fish farming, and poultry.
  • Agricultural farming can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the climate, topography, technology available, and other traditions. Permanent crops are cultivated and harvested but not replaced in low-technology farming, whereas crop rotation is used in high-technology agriculture.
  • Some people may believe that horticulture and agriculture are the same things. To be sure, they are related in some way, yet their distinct personalities and ways set them apart. To completely comprehend someone's differences, you must have a thorough and broad awareness of them.

Key differences

Agricultural and horticultural methods both employ the same techniques.

  • Horticulture is primarily concerned with crop cultivation, while agriculture covers both crop cultivation and animal husbandry.
  • Human consumption is the primary concern in agriculture, while consumption and ornamental objectives are the primary concerns in horticulture. Arboriculture, floriculture, and landscaping go under the decorative category, whereas olericulture, pomology, and viticulture fall under the food category.
  • Agricultural methods involve large-scale farming, whereas horticultural practices involve small-scale gardening.
  • Because mono-cropping or monoculture is a concern of agricultural systems, it is at the fundamental stage of succession. As a result, the ecological series will be weakened, and biodiversity will be reduced.
  • Horticultural methods support the growth of biodiversity and ecological succession.
  • In horticulture, cultural weed and pest control methods are common, while in agriculture, the use of artificial or chemical herbicides or pesticides is every day.
  • In horticulture, perennial crop cultivation is common, whereas, in agriculture, annual crop cultivation is common.


A fundamental familiarity with agriculture and horticulture, particularly the contrasts between the two, is advantageous. Horticulture is a sub-discipline of agriculture in general. It is about plant gardening, and you can compare the two because the techniques are often interchanged. A variety of horticultural approaches are used in agricultural procedures. Horticulture uses specialized skills and practices such as plant cultivation and soil management. Horticulture also has a site dedicated to crop production. So far, we've covered the fundamental contrasts between agriculture and horticulture. This explanation is frequently made more complicated than it needs to be. However, getting back to the basics is straightforward. If you're interested in the realms of gardening and farming, you should be aware of these distinctions.

There you have it: horticulture and agriculture, two seemingly similar but vastly different fields concerned with the cultivation of plants, crops, and animal husbandry. They do overlap to some level because horticulture techniques are designed to improve agriculture operations. In essence, though, these are two distinct sectors that are critical for human survival on Earth.


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"Difference Between Agriculture and Horticulture." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-agriculture-and-horticulture-340>.

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