A lot of people don’t know much about the difference between agriculture and horticulture. This is key information for keen gardeners or budding farmers. However, it can be a bit confusing for a beginner. Sustainable agriculture is becoming more popular. Behind it are the skills of traditional farming and horticulture. That’s one of many reasons it’s important to learn the key differences between the two.

This article is here to break down the basics for you. First, we’ll describe agriculture. Then, we’ll talk you through how horticulture is different. Finally, we note how the two are connected.

Put very simply, agriculture is growing plants and animals to make human food. Horticulture is growing plants for food and other uses. At the same time, it involves learning how to look after the environment through studying plants.

Read on for a more detailed explanation of all the main things you should know about agriculture and horticulture! 

What Is Agriculture?

People often use the word agriculture to describe lots of different types of plant growing and farming. It is a global, multi-billion dollar industry.

Agriculture is growing and harvesting food crops and animals for human use. Its purpose is growing plants and protecting them from animals and diseases to make food for humans. Feeding animals using these plants to grow meat for human food is also part of agriculture. This means looking after farm animals like cattle and pigs.

The focus of agriculture is therefore supplying humanity with food. Because farmers need to grow a lot of food for humans, agriculture takes up a lot of space. The scale of it is therefore very big. This makes it quite different from horticulture, as we will explain.

Types Of Agriculture

There are two main types of agriculture. Traditional agriculture changes the natural environment to grow food. This means changing things like soil, types of plants, and using chemicals to make crops grow better. One type of crop is usually grown in a large field. This is common with rice, corn, and wheat. 

Another type of farming is sustainable agriculture. This is when farmers aim to make farming less harmful to nature. To create sustainable agriculture, farmers will often plant a range of different crops together. They base what they grow on things like the seasonal weather and which plants grow naturally in the area. 

In the next section, we describe what is so different about horticulture when compared to agriculture.

How Is Horticulture Different to Agriculture?

People usually think of horticulture as part of agriculture. This is correct, but there’s a bit more to it.

Horticulture is about understanding, growing, and breeding plants. These can include vegetables for human use. However, horticulture also uses things like trees, flowers, grass, and nuts. Horticulture includes non-edible plants and doesn’t cover animals. This makes it different from agriculture, even though they’re related.

How much land is used is an important difference between agriculture and horticulture, as we’re already mentioned. Horticulture can be done in closed areas rather than big fields. As a result, it can use fewer resources and land than agriculture.

Adding to this, horticulture can be thought of as a science in itself.

The Science of Horticulture

A lot of the science behind farming comes from the study of horticulture. 

Horticulture is about studying the make-up of plants and how to grow them. It also looks at the environment and the variety of plants and animals in an area. Studying how plants can be grown to promote a healthy and diverse environment is very important.

The information learned in horticulture can be used in sustainable farming. As sustainable agriculture is becoming very popular and necessary to look after the planet, this information is very important. Horticulture can therefore help to make farming better for the environment.

How Are Agriculture And Horticulture Connected?

So far, we’ve seen the main differences between agriculture and horticulture. In this section, we can think about how they are related.

As we’ve explained, agriculture uses the science of horticulture. Growing plants is a key part of both. This means agriculture relies on what we can learn about plants from horticulture.

However, agriculture is more focused on food, whilst horticulture thinks more about the environment. Agriculture includes animals, but horticulture includes plants like flowers and trees that we can’t eat.

Whilst there are some similarities, it’s important to remember the big differences.


So, we’ve given you a basic overview of the main differences between agriculture and horticulture. People often make this explanation more complicated than it needs to be. Breaking it down to the basics is very simple, however. Knowing about these differences is important if you’re interested in the worlds of gardening and farming.

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