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Agriculture vs. Horticulture: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on June 10, 2024
Agriculture involves the cultivation of plants and raising of animals for food and other products, while horticulture focuses on the cultivation, processing, and sale of plants for ornamental or consumption purposes.

Key Differences

Agriculture and horticulture are both disciplines within the realm of plant cultivation, but they have different emphases and scopes. Agriculture is a broad term that encompasses the cultivation of plants, as well as the raising of animals, for food, fiber, medicinal plants, and other products used to sustain human life. It usually takes place on a larger scale, involving vast tracts of land dedicated to farming activities like planting crops or raising livestock. Horticulture, in contrast, zeroes in on the cultivation, processing, and sale of plants, specifically for ornamental or consumption purposes.
Within the realm of agriculture, the focus tends to be on producing a larger yield to feed populations or provide raw materials for industries. This includes activities like field cropping, dairy farming, and poultry raising. It often requires extensive knowledge about soil health, pest control, and crop rotation. Horticulture, however, delves deeper into the science and art of plant growing, often on a smaller scale, such as in gardens, greenhouses, or orchards. It covers the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds, and non-food crops like grass or ornamental trees and shrubs.
Another differentiating factor is the intent behind cultivation. Agriculture often aims for quantity, ensuring there's enough produce to meet demand, often using techniques to enhance production. Horticulture, though it can be commercial, places a significant emphasis on quality, aesthetics, and diversity of plants. For instance, a horticulturist might be interested in breeding a flower with a specific color or creating hybrid fruits with unique flavors.
In terms of education and training, both fields have specific paths. Agriculture tends to cover a broader range of topics given its scale and diversity, from animal husbandry to crop science. Horticulture, while it can be a specialization within agricultural studies, often focuses more on botany, plant physiology, and the specific techniques for nurturing particular plants.

Comparison Chart


Cultivation of plants and raising animals
Cultivation, processing, and sale of plants


Larger scale, vast lands
Smaller scale, gardens, greenhouses, or orchards


Aimed for quantity and mass production
Emphasizes quality, aesthetics, and diversity

Common Practices

Field cropping, dairy farming, livestock raising
Gardening, landscape design, plant breeding

Education and Training Topics

Animal husbandry, crop science, soil health
Botany, plant physiology, nurturing specific plants

Agriculture and Horticulture Definitions


The business of farming.
He's been in agriculture for decades, producing corn and wheat.


The cultivation of plants for food, comfort, and beauty.
The botanical garden focuses on horticulture and plant conservation.


Activities connected with the cultivation of land.
They discussed the future challenges of agriculture at the conference.


The art or practice of garden cultivation and management.
Horticulture is her passion; her backyard is a testament to that.


A system of preparing land for growing crops.
Sustainable agriculture focuses on long-term environmental health.


The science concerned with cultivating plants.
He earned his degree in horticulture and now manages an orchard.


The production of crops, livestock, or poultry.
Modern agriculture employs various technological advancements.


The business of cultivating garden plants.
They launched a horticulture startup specializing in exotic flowers.


The science of cultivating land and raising crops.
Agriculture has been a foundation of civilizations for millennia.


The cultivation and propagation of plants for sale.
The horticulture exhibit at the fair displayed a variety of ornamental plants.


The science, art, and business of cultivating soil, producing crops, and raising livestock; farming.


The science or art of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.


The art or science of cultivating the ground, including the harvesting of crops, and the rearing and management of livestock


The cultivation of a garden.


Do horticulturists focus on ornamental plants only?

No, horticulture covers both ornamental and consumption plants.

Does agriculture always involve large farms?

Not always, but agriculture typically operates on a larger scale than horticulture.

Is horticulture a subset of agriculture?

Yes, horticulture is a specialized branch of agriculture.

Is agriculture only about growing crops?

No, agriculture includes both crop cultivation and animal husbandry.

Can horticulture be commercial?

Yes, horticulture can be both commercial and for personal pleasure.

Do agriculture and horticulture require different skills?

While they share many principles, each has specific techniques and knowledge areas.

Can horticulture improve mental well-being?

Yes, many find horticultural activities therapeutic and stress-relieving.

Are both fields affected by climate change?

Yes, both agriculture and horticulture are influenced by changing climate conditions.

Are hydroponics and aquaponics part of horticulture?

Yes, these are modern techniques that fall under horticulture.

Which field is more concerned with plant aesthetics?

Horticulture often places a greater emphasis on plant aesthetics.

Is soil health crucial in both fields?

Yes, soil health is vital in both agriculture and horticulture.

Can horticulture exist without soil, like in hydroponics?

Yes, horticulture includes soilless cultivation methods like hydroponics.

Is urban farming considered agriculture or horticulture?

It can be both, depending on the scale and focus of the urban farm.

Which field delves deeper into plant breeding?

While both involve plant breeding, horticulture often delves deeper into it.

Is agriculture more about food production?

Primarily, but agriculture also produces fibers, medicinal plants, and more.

What's the role of a horticulturist in landscape design?

A horticulturist ensures the right plants are chosen and well-maintained in a landscape.

Can horticulture be practiced indoors?

Absolutely, many horticultural practices, like growing in greenhouses, occur indoors.

Which field might use larger machinery more frequently?

Agriculture, given its scale, often requires larger machinery.

Are there sustainable practices in agriculture?

Yes, sustainable agriculture focuses on environmentally friendly farming practices.

Do agriculture practices impact global economies?

Yes, agriculture is a cornerstone of many economies and impacts global trade.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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