Horticulture Versus Agriculture
The biggest question when it comes to horticulture vs. agriculture for most people is what the difference is.
Perhaps you are interested in going into a “green” field, where knowing the difference would help you make some critical decisions about your future. Maybe you are looking for a new hobby, and you know you like plants.
In those scenarios, what do you take horticulture courses or agriculture courses?
Hopefully, by the end, you will have some more clarity on the matter of horticulture versus agriculture.
Horticulture is distinctly different from agriculture because it is a scientific discipline that is a part of the field of agriculture.
Horticulture can be most easily understood as the “science of cultivation” as a concept. Horticulture, as a discipline, focuses on the cultivation of crops and how to better their overall performance.
Performance of crops is measured by disease-resistance, actual yields ( how many tomatoes do I harvest), stress tolerances, and nutritional value at harvest.
Horticulturists do extensive research on their plant type/field, to improve these characteristics. Most of the work is carried out in laboratory settings, and a fair bit of biochemistry is involved. Specializations like plant propagation and plant breeding come out of this discipline, as well.
The plants that are worked with and studied are often food crops, but also turf and ornamentals (think shrubs).
Though what separates the two most notably is that horticulture is focused on a small scale or “gardens,” and agriculture is based on large scale operations. Although the discoveries and improvements made within the discipline have applications to agriculture itself.
Agriculture is the traditional idea of “farming” that the general public has in their collective imagination.
Agriculture is the foundation of the food industry. The industry has millions of acres dedicated to ensuring that there is enough raw product to go into the rest of the manufacturing and distribution chain.
Agriculture also encompasses animal husbandry, where the classic farm animals, such as cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep, are raised for their meat or by-product, such as eggs, milk, or wool.
The plant side of agriculture mostly focuses on the main food crops in the region. In the United States, corn, wheat, and potatoes are the staples.
Agriculture, because of the massive scale of the operations, sometimes thousands of acres, is an outdoor, very season sensitive industry. A lot of time is spent seeding and then surveying the crop as it grows to catch any pest or disease outbreaks and minimize losses.
Agricultural operations that specialize in greenhouse or “indoor” production of crops, like tomatoes, year-round, are also part of the industry.
In short, horticulture is focused on cultivation and the properties that the plant possesses. It is a research-based discipline looking to improve crop performance, done on a small scale.
Agriculture is the foundation of our food chain, encompassing both crops and animal husbandry. The enterprise ensures that the raw product is either fashioned into our favorite treats or can be found conveniently at the local grocery store.
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