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From our early morning stimulating herbal infusion to the temptingly delicious steak we love to have for dinner, animals and plants are an important part of our daily lives. From the very beginning of civilization, humans were able to figure out agricultural techniques like biodynamic farming as the most sustainable way of survival. Ever since humans have made much progress in advancing agricultural techniques to overcome the increasing human population.

However, in the past few decades, another term has made much appearance together with agriculture – horticulture. Since many times these terms are used simultaneously, most people have started to use them interchangeably. However, are they really the same?

Well, in this blog we will be demystifying the difference between these two terms to see how much they overlap and how each of these fields contribute to human survival on earth.

Agriculture

  • One of the oldest techniques to cultivate crops and raise livestock.
  • A broad term covering various sub-fields including agronomy, aquaculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, and forestry.
  • At times also referred to as “Farming”.

Horticulture

  • A sub-field of agriculture.
  • A specialized field that’s focused on developing improved technology and techniques to cultivate crops, and other plants for human consumption, as well as, for ornamental and other purposes.
  • At times also referred to as “Gardening”.

What is Horticulture?

For ease of understanding, horticulture can be seen as a subfield of agriculture. The horticulture field is mostly related to the study of the cultivation of food crops and other others using specialized techniques.

The most recognizable and significant distinction that differentiates horticulture from agriculture is the fact that horticulture is mostly carried out in a closed environment and on a small scale (consider closed greenhouses), whereas, agriculture is done in open fields and is related to the mass production of crops. Horticulture deals with the development of advanced techniques that can be used to improve the quality and quantity of crops (food crops or even oriental plants). The research conducted in horticulture is also directed to improve the nutritional value of the crops, enhance the plants’ resistance against diseases, and pests, as well as, reinforce the capacity of plants to deal with natural stresses. Thereby, horticulture essentially refers to the research process meant to improve the quality, and quantity of crops, and other plants.

Horticulture is an important field that contributes significantly towards improving and sustaining the quality of food for the betterment of humans. The field has various applications in improving the crop cultivation procedures in different environments, thus ensuring the sustainability of lives by ensuring food security across the world. It’s a wide-ranging field with a diversified scope, which is further classified into various categories including; turf management, Olericulture, floriculture, viticulture, landscape horticulture, pomology, postharvest physiology, and others.

Characteristics of Horticulture 

Now, let’s quickly break down the key characteristics of horticulture;

  • Modern Technologies 

As mentioned above, horticulture involves the use of advanced techniques and the latest technologies including genetic engineering, biochemistry, and others to enhance crops and plant cultivation procedures.

  • High Input and High Value

The whole purpose of the horticulture field is to improve the cultivation of crops and plants. Since the field includes the use of advanced scientific research, the emphasis is on the development of processes that can generate higher quantity and quality of crops.

  • Management Intensive 

Horticulture is a specialized field that requires specific skill sets and training. Since the field is related to the development of new processes, it involves intensive management to ensure handling and maintaining the quality of the processes and outcomes.

  • Capital Intensive 

As with any other research field, horticulture is a capital-intensive field that requires a huge upfront investment for building and maintaining greenhouses, conducting research, procuring equipment, and other resources.

  • Diverse Production 

As mentioned above, the field of horticulture isn’t restricted to the development of processes for crops, rather it also includes research for wide-ranging plants and trees.

What is Agriculture?

Ok, now that we are done understanding the process of horticulture, let’s move on to something we are more familiar with – Agriculture. As most of you would already know, agriculture is the science/process of soil cultivation for the production of crops for human consumption (food and cash crops). However, agriculture also involves the farming of livestock. The process of agriculture includes producing crops and raising livestock, which can be delivered and distributed to the markets. The process of agriculture also includes the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals to improve the crop yield, protect the crop from invasive weeds, and increase plant growth. Lastly, agriculture isn’t just related to the production of food crops, rather it also includes the production of cash crops like cotton, wool, leather, and others.

Characteristics of Agriculture 

Agriculture involves the use of various traditional and non-traditional cultivation techniques like tilling, seedling, transplanting, and others. Below are some core characteristics of the agriculture process;

  • Use of Chemical Substances 

While it may not be a favorable option, the process of agriculture uses various chemical substances including pesticides, fertilizers, and others to improve the quality and quantity of the crops. These natural and chemical substances are an important part of the modern-day agriculture industry since it improves the crop yield and protects the crops against harmful pests, and insects.

  • Production Cost

The overall production cost of crops varies significantly depending upon the crop yield, transportation costs, raw material costs, and others.

  • Seasonal Variability

Traditionally the agricultural crops are only harvested seasonally and various factors influence the crop production, as well as, the flow of supply and demand.

Takeaway!

There you have it, horticulture vs agriculture; the two seemingly similar yet distinctively different fields that are related to the cultivation of plants, crops, and raising animals. Honestly, both of them do overlap to a certain extent; since the techniques developed in horticulture are meant to improve agricultural practices. However, in essence, these are two distinctively different fields that are essential for human survival on earth.

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