This report presents the results of a survey of rodenticide use on Scottish farms growing arable crops in 2018. Information was collected from 272 holdings, collectively growing 7 per cent of the 2018 arable crop area. Data from this sample was used to estimate total Scottish rodenticide use in this crop sector.
It was estimated that rodenticides were used on 55 per cent of all arable farms in 2018, significantly fewer than the 78 per cent reported in 2016. Pest control professionals (PCPs) conducted the baiting on 54 per cent of holdings using rodenticides and applied 56 per cent of rodenticides by weight.
In 2018 an estimated 49 tonnes of rodenticide products were used on arable farms. This is a decrease of 47 per cent since 2016 and a decrease of 57 per cent since 2014. The products used contained less than 6 kg of rodenticide active substance. As in previous surveys, almost all products used (>98 per cent) were second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, primarily bromadiolone and difenacoum (95 per cent by weight).
The majority of rodenticides (61 per cent) were applied throughout the year, either used permanently or in multiple individual baiting operations. This is an increase in year-round use from 2016 (46 per cent). Most rodenticides were used in autumn and winter (65 per cent). Grain baits were the most common product type (90 per cent) and the main targets were a combination of rats and mice (52 per cent) or rats (46 per cent). Sixty per cent of farms that did not use rodenticides and 46 per cent of those that did, employed non-chemical rodent control; the most common methods were cats and traps.
Survey respondents were asked about rodenticide stewardship, training attainment, compliance with best practice and aspects of their farm operation. Eighty six per cent of farmers were aware of rodenticide stewardship, of these 25 per cent had completed stewardship compliant rodenticide use training and 21 per cent planned to in the future. As in previous surveys, significantly more PCPs had completed training than farmers. In relation to best practice, the majority of both farmers and PCPs stated they complied with all elements and responses were similar to those reported in 2016. In 2018, more farmers stated that they searched for and removed carcasses than in 2016, therefore for the first time there was no statistical difference between user groups in relation to this question. In relation to farm operation, farmers that practised rodenticide baiting were significantly more likely to be members of a quality assurance scheme and to have a grain store than farmers that did not use rodenticides.
This dataset is the second in this series to be conducted since the industry led stewardship scheme was introduced in 2015 and subsequent HSE rodenticide product reauthorisations in 2016 and 2017. It is likely that the decreased rodenticide usage, increased adoption of non-chemical control and increased uptake of best practice reported in 2018 has been influenced by the introduction of the stewardship and regulatory changes.