Our guide to agriculture and horticulture
Jane McGuire

Our guide to agriculture and horticulture

First published date May 09 2016 Amended date May 09 2016

For lovers of the great outdoors, agriculture and horticulture courses are a perfect fit. What’s the difference between the two we hear you cry? In simple terms, agriculture is the science behind farming – from getting soil ready to produce crops, to rearing animals for food and other products. Horticulture on the other hand, is associated with the practise of garden management, so courses include gardening, garden design and floristry. With plenty on offer, finding your perfect course can seem overwhelming, which is where we come in!


I know nothing about soil, can I still do a course?

Of course! With nearly three thousand courses to choose from, being a complete beginner definitely doesn’t matter here. If you are new here, the best place to start is to work out exactly why you want to do a course. If renovating your garden is your project for the summer, you’ll definitely want to steer your search in the horticulture direction. That said, if you’re hoping to learn how to increase the productivity on your farm, you’ll probably need a longer, practical course.

On the other hand, if you already have some experience and are looking to gain a recognised qualification to help you progress in the industry, there’s plenty of more advanced courses on offer too.


Will I be getting my hands dirty?

In one word, yes. Whichever course you choose, you will be doing some sort of practical work. If you are doing a longer diploma, your time may be split between classroom theory and time outdoors. However, if it’s a short course in garden design, you will probably spend a proportion of your time learning how to make beds and plant flowers.


What are the main things I’ll learn?

This totally depends on the type of course you choose. Some longer courses can take up to a year to complete and will give you a qualification that will allow you to progress onto higher education courses. On the other hand, on a weekend floristry course you might be able to leave with the skills needed to tie a bouquet next Mother’s Day. For a more in-depth idea, you’ll have to take a closer look at the course description which should outline everything you need to know.


What kind of things can I study?

We do understand that when looking at thousands of courses, narrowing these down can be difficult, so to try and make things a little easier, we’ve outlined some of the most popular subjects below.

Animal husbandry – Here you’ll find all the courses connected to the breeding and care of animals, from equine study to extended animal care diplomas.

Crop production – Learn how to sew and grow the crops in your garden.

Land based studies – Usually longer, more in-depth courses for those hoping to work in the industry. You’ll be learning animal handling and practical skills.

RHS – For all those hoping to turn a love of horticulture into a career, these are three letters to look out for when choosing your course. The Royal Horticultural Society are a prestigious gardening society, that offers a number of qualifications and accredited programmes that are highly regarded within the industry. 

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