Difference between Agriculture and Irrigation

Key difference: Agriculture is the practice of cultivating food and rearing animals for food and food products. Irrigation is the act of supplying dry land with water, especially during agriculture.

History shows that we have always been dependant on agriculture for our survival. Be it spices, crops, clothes, furniture, etc., we have been cultivating and exchanging such items, from centuries gone by. Even after industrialization, agriculture forms the backbone of our modern economies. Agriculture is still one of the largest contributors in the total accumulated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the world, despite the establishment and development of other private sector industries such as information technology, consumer goods, oil and petroleum, etc.

Agriculture is defined as the process of farming and cultivation of crops, along with rearing of animals, in order to produce food and food products. Agriculture is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of activities such as irrigation, cattle farming, dry land farming, organic farming, sustainable agriculture, etc. There are many industries and businesses that are founded on the basic premise of agriculture and farming. Companies manufacturing seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, farming hardware, irrigation hardware, etc., thrive on this field. Big scale factories such as textiles, pharmaceuticals and sugar, also depend on agriculture to derive their raw materials from agriculture.

Irrigation is the procedure of supplementing agricultural lands with water for a number of purposes. Irrigating vegetative lands helps yield a high number of crops and a good variety at that. Many lands do not receive adequate rainfall as required, and even if they do, the amount of rain received is not always uniform. Irrigation serves as a brilliant alternative to help soil consolidate and recover its lost nutrients, in order to produce the expected quality of crops. Apart from cultivation, irrigation is also used for sewage treatment, flushing out the surface and sub-surface water, and maintaining the landscape as well. Sometimes irrigation is also used to repress weed plantations and keep them in check from time to time.

Comparison between Agriculture and Irrigation:





Agriculture is the process of farming and rearing animals for food and food products.

Irrigation is the act of supplying dry land with water, especially during agriculture.



To raise crops and enable livelihood.

To aid in agriculture besides sewage treatment, re-vegetation, etc.


Agriculture makes use of irrigation for a number of reasons.

Irrigation is a supplement to agriculture.


There are no alternatives to agriculture for food production.

Rainfall and floods irrigate lands and fields in absence of irrigation.


Agriculture and agricultural processes are mainly carried out by farmers.

Irrigation is made available by local authorities as well as individuals.

Image Courtesy: jumpthecurve.net, beaumondelandscape.com

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