This report presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2018. The crops surveyed included strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and other minor soft fruit crops.
The estimated area of soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2018 was 2,088 hectares, including 39 hectares of multi-cropping. Strawberries accounted for 56 per cent of the soft fruit area, other soft fruit crops 17 per cent, blackcurrants 14 per cent and raspberries 13 per cent. Data were collected from a total of 72 holdings, collectively representing 44 per cent of the total soft fruit crop area. Ratio raising was used to produce estimates of national pesticide use from the sampled data.
The estimated total area of soft fruit crops treated with a pesticide formulation (area grown multiplied by number of treatments) was ca. 31,800 hectares (± 10 per cent Relative Standard Error, RSE) with a combined weight of ca. 17.4 tonnes (± 13 per cent RSE). Overall, pesticides were applied to 93 per cent of the soft fruit crop area. Fungicides were applied to 90 per cent of the crop area, insecticides/acaricides to 88 per cent, herbicides to 45 per cent, biologicals to 40 per cent, molluscicides to 24 per cent and sulphur was applied to 23 per cent.
Taking into account changes in crop area, the 2018 total pesticide treated area was 10 per cent higher than that reported in 2016 and 26 per cent lower than in 2014. The weight of pesticides applied to soft fruit crops in 2018 was 18 per cent higher than in 2016 and 37 per cent lower than in 2014. The application of biopesticides, molluscicides, biological control agents, sulphur and fungicides increased from the 2016 survey (208, 152, 63, 25 and 10 per cent increases in treated area respectively). The application of herbicides/desiccants and insecticides/acaricides decreased (34 and 7 per cent decreases in treated area respectively).
Overall pesticide application to soft fruit crops was higher in 2018 than reported in 2016. However, the low pesticide use reported in 2016 was atypical in this data series, influenced by cool climatic conditions, lower pest pressure and a low survey response rate. Pesticide application in 2018 was lower than levels reported in 2014 and 2012.
In terms of area treated, the fungicide fenhexamid was the most commonly used active substance. Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713, thiacloprid and diquat were the most used biopesticide, insecticide/acaricide and herbicide/desiccant active substances respectively. Sulphur, which is used at high application rates, was the most commonly used pesticide by weight.