Agriculture vs. Horticulture: Its Main Differences

Friday, 23 September 2022

Certain topics are related to one another, and many people tend to confuse them. Agriculture and horticulture are one of them. In this article, we will show you the definitions and the main differences between these terms.

There are many different aspects in which agriculture and horticulture are similar. For example, etymologically, these words are pretty similar. Peter Michael Bauer, an anthropologist, archaeologist, and historian, explains to us that the word agriculture comes from the Latin words agri-, meaning field, and -cultura, meaning cultivation. On the other hand, horticulture also comes from the Latin words hortus, meaning garden, and -cultura, meaning, again, cultivation. One difference we can spot between the etymology of these words is the dimension of their meanings: one refers to a bigger field, whereas the other refers to a small parcel of land or garden. 

Agriculture vs. Horticulture

What is Agriculture? 

Agriculture is a practice that consists of raising livestock for farming and cultivating the soil and producing crops all for human consumption.  One characteristic of agriculture is that it is performed in wide areas and is large-scale. Another characteristic of agriculture is that old and traditional methods of production are used since they are considered to be more effective. Different types of machinery, tools and irrigation systems are what make this practice possible. 

Agriculture is also characterised by using fertilizers, pesticides, and different substances to help crops grow adequately. This type of practice can cultivate food products for human consumption but also raw materials such as cotton, wood, and wool. All of these products can be taken to the market to be commercialized. 

What is Horticulture? 

Horticulture can be considered a subdivision of agriculture. It is the process of cultivating plants including various methods of conditioning the soil so that the planting comes out correctly. Among the different types of plants that are cultivated, we can find vegetables, flowers, trees, fruits, spices, nuts, and ornamental plants. One of the characteristics of horticulture is that it takes place in smaller pieces of land, such as gardens. Another characteristic of horticulture is that modern technologies are used to improve crop yield.

Differences between Agriculture and Horticulture 

 One of the key differences between agriculture and horticulture is, as we mentioned earlier, the different places in which these practices occur. While agriculture occurs in big pieces of land, horticulture happens in gardens. Another difference is the products each of these practices produces. Agriculture is in charge of human consumption only, whereas horticulture deals with human consumption as well as ornamental flowers and products. Another differentiation we can make between these two processes is the methods used to produce the products. Agriculture makes use of more traditional methods, whereas horticulture uses modern techniques. 

All in all, it is easy to make a distinction between agriculture vs. horticulture, they have many differences in their methods of production or in the products they produce. However, at the same time, they have their main similarities. 

If you are interested in cultivating plants and producing crops, farming, and the cultivation of flowers and trees, any of these two professions would fit you perfectly. In Australia, you can earn a degree in agriculture or horticulture at the Melbourne Polytechnic. Check out these degrees: 

To get more information about these and many other degrees, fill in the form on this site and one of our advisors will contact you as soon as possible to answer any questions you may have. 

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