What Is the Difference Between Agriculture and Horticulture?

Agriculture is the cultivating of crops and animals for human consumption, while horticulture is the study and cultivation of plants without the use of animals. Plants grown by horticulturists are not necessarily used for food. Agricultural plants are grown in large fields with the express purpose of being sold commercially. Horticulture can refer to a large field of plants grown for the purpose of study or a backyard garden.

Agriculturalists look for low-cost, effective ways of producing food for human consumption. The crops produced by agriculture include fruits, vegetables, poultry and beans. In horticulture, the primary concern is how to cultivate the crops and the study of the techniques used. Horticulture is done on a much smaller scale than agriculture. Where agriculture expands to include the breeding and care of animals used for food, horticulture is exclusive to plants. The plants grown through horticulture can include fruits or vegetables that are edible, but it also includes plants that are used in industrial processes, such as the manufacturing of rubber. Plants grown by horticulturalists can be decorative or have medicinal purposes. While agriculture focuses on creating food, horticulture focuses on the study of the plants themselves including soil composition, the physiology of the plants and genetic engineering.