Horticulture vs. Agriculture: Understanding the Basic Differences

Have you ever wondered about the difference between horticulture and agriculture? While both involve cultivating plants, there are distinct differences between the two practices.

Horticulture and agriculture are both essential for providing us with food and other plant-based products. However, they differ in their methods, goals, and scale of operation. Understanding the difference between the two can help you make more informed decisions about your food choices and career path.

A comparison of horticulture vs. agriculture will be discussed in this article. It will be interesting to see how they differ and what characteristics they have in common.


What’s Horticulture

Horticulture means “the science of cultivation.” It is a scientific field based on research that focuses on the development of plants and how to improve their general performance. Various criteria, including disease resistance, yields, stress tolerances, and harvest nutritional content, are used to evaluate crop performance.

Most horticulture work is done in controlled environments such as laboratories, requiring a good deal of biochemistry. The field of horticulture encompasses a broad range of scientific topics, some of which include cultivation, plant propagation, breeding of plants, production of crops, plant physiology, as well as biochemistry and genetic engineering, to name a few.

Characteristic of Horticulture

1. Modern Technology

Horticulture is the science of improving plant cultivation using cutting-edge methods and tools such as genetic engineering, biochemistry, and others.

Modern Technology

2. Higher Input and Value

The whole objective of horticulture is to enhance the cultivation of crops and plants. Since the discipline involves applying modern scientific research, the focus is on creating techniques that may increase agricultural yield and quality.

3. Capital Intensive

As with any other research subject, horticulture is a capital-intensive field that needs a substantial initial expenditure for greenhouse construction and maintenance, research, equipment acquisition, and other resources.

4. Diverse Production

As stated before, horticulture is not limited to creating agricultural processes but also involves studying various plants and trees.

Diverse Production

Related: Designing a Permaculture Garden, How to Start an Indoor Vegetable Garden

What’s Agriculture

Agriculture is cultivating crops and animals only to provide human food. Most people think of it when they hear the word “farming,” and it’s the basis of the food business.

The purpose of plant agriculture is not to learn about the plant’s ideal growth circumstances but to create food for humans to consume. Hence it draws techniques and knowledge from horticulture to increase disease resistance and crop yields.

Related: Practices You Need to Know About Sustainable Agriculture

Characteristics of Agriculture

1. Use of Chemical Substances

While it may not be a desirable alternative, the agricultural process employs a variety of chemical compounds such as pesticides, fertilizers, and others to boost crop quality and quantity. These natural and artificial compounds are vital to today’s agricultural business since they increase crop output and protect crops from destructive pests and insects.

Use of Chemical Substances

2. Production Cost

Crop production costs vary greatly based on crop output, transportation costs, raw material prices, and other factors.

3. Seasonality

Traditionally, crops are harvested exclusively during certain seasons, and several variables affect crop output as well as the flow of supply and demand.

The Main Difference Between Horticulture and Agriculture

The Fields of Study

Horticulture studies all plants, both those that can be eaten and those that can’t. On the other hand, agriculture only studies plants that can be eaten and animals.

Each Other’s Purpose

The study of horticulture seeks to get an understanding of the optimum environmental conditions for the development of various plant species.

Horticulture aims to determine the best-growing conditions for a plant. It’s kind of like taking care of a garden.

Horticulture’s purpose is to determine how different kinds of plants grow best. It’s kind of like taking care of a garden. In agriculture, on the other hand, the purpose is to maximize yields for food production. It has to do with taking care of the field.

Production Cost

The Scope of the Study

Horticulture usually means gardening on a small scale, while agriculture usually means much more extensive operations.

The Scope of the Work

Horticulture is a research-based field where most work is performed in laboratories. In contrast, agriculture is a beneficial occupation, with the majority of labor performed in the area. That is not to suggest that agriculture does not use research; it does. However, this is not the center of the piece.


The entire cost of agricultural production varies considerably based on crop output, transportation expenses, and other factors.

Horticulture vs. Agriculture: A More In-Depth Comparison

  1. Agriculture covers large-scale operations, while horticulture is a small-scale operation. It’s closer to the realm of gardening.
  2. The main goal of agriculture is to make more food, while horticulture aims to figure out the conditions plants need to grow.
  3. Growing crops and raising livestock are both parts of agriculture, although plant cultivation is the focus of agriculture.
  4. Agriculture grows foods that people can consume. Horticulture, on the other hand, chooses plants that are not suitable for human consumption.
  5. Horticulture is a relatively recent concept. It is based on scientific research and typically developed inside a laboratory’s confines. Agriculture, on the other hand, is a practical activity that takes place in the fields. It has been going on since the dawn of civilization. On the other hand, agriculture has benefited from scientific advancements in Horticulture.


In conclusion, Agriculture is a large-scale technology of animal farming and plant cultivation. Its primary use has usually been to supply humans with food, but it can also produce some progression of materials for other services, such as fuel and wood.

As agriculture vastly grew in the 18th century, horticulture emerged simultaneously with a diverse appeal. The practices of horticulture and agriculture were so different that they could be completely separate. Although they could draw many benefits from practicing both, horticulture was a practice that was labor intensive and required less traditional agriculture skills.

Though advances in agricultural technology gradually reduced the differences between the industry of horticulture and agriculture, the practice of horticulture in developing countries is still widely seen as a sophisticated technology by many farmers. Horticulture does not require the expensive equipment used in agriculture, like tractors, plows, and harvesters. Small-scale horticulture yields only a small amount of food at a time but can produce rice even in rocky soils.

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