Many times it can be difficult to discern between the agricultural and horticultural sciences. The words are even used interchangeably, and depending on the situation this may not always be correct. The following is a quick discussion of the difference between the two sciences.


Agriculture is the study of growing plants and animals for human consumption. This is an extremely wide field, and some professionals actually classify horticulture as a subdivision of agriculture. Many disagree with this notion, stating that horticulture is a science that relates to agriculture but is free-standing. In agriculture, you study the entirety of the food web and try to find effective and economic ways to produce food that will be consumed by society. There are many fields within agriculture that can range from poultry to irrigation.


Horticulture is the study of techniques that are used to grow different types of plant crops. This discipline does not include animals in any way like agriculture does. Furthermore, the plants that horticulturalists study and grow do not necessarily have to produce food. For example, the cultivation of Hevea brasiliensis is not for the purpose of food, but for the extraction of rubber. Also, horticulture is done on a small scale unlike the agricultural business machines that are evident in Western society.

The Difference

In essence, the difference between agriculture and horticulture lies in scale and scope. Agriculture usually occurs on a very large scale and deals with edible plants and animals, while horticulture deals only with plants and is done on a smaller scale.


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