Pesticide usage in Scotland

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Pesticide use on arable crops grown in Scotland in 2018 has declined according to a new report. 

A reduction in the use of rodenticides used to control rodents on arable farms was also recorded.  Pesticide use on soft fruit crops was higher in 2018 than reported in 2016. However, the low pesticide application rates reported in 2016 were atypical in this data series and pesticide application in 2018 was lower than levels reported in 2014 and 2012.

Overall, pesticide applications to Scottish arable crops in 2018 were 4% lower than in the previous survey in 2016. 98% of arable crops were treated with a pesticide in 2018.  The treated area received on average 3.9 pesticide sprays with a total combined application weight of ca.1,312 tonnes. 

In relation to pesticide use on stored potatoes, 28% of seed potatoes and 13% of ware potatoes were treated with a pesticide in 2018.  These proportions are lower than reported in 2016 for seed potatoes and similar than 2016 for ware potatoes. 

93% of soft fruit crops in Scotland were treated with pesticides.  The treated area received on average 11.2 pesticide sprays with a total combined weight of ca. 17 tonnes.  Overall pesticide application was 10% higher in 2018 than reported in 2016.  The use of biopesticides and biological control agents has increased since the previous survey for managing insect pests and disease in soft fruit crops as part of an integrated pest management system.

It was estimated that rodenticides were used on 55% of arable farms in 2018, a reduction from the 78% using rodenticides in 2016.  Approximately 49 tonnes of rodenticide bait, containing less than 6kg of active substance, was estimated to have been used.  This was 47% lower than in the previous survey in 2016.  The rodenticides encountered were almost exclusively second generation anticoagulant compounds. 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 2015 industry led rodenticide stewardship scheme.


The full statistical publications are available at:

Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Arable Crops and Potato Stores 2018
Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Soft Fruit Crops 2018
Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Rodenticides on Arable Farms 2018

The figures released were produced by independent statistical staff, free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

These reports are part of a series of surveys which are produced to estimate pesticide usage in Scotland. Each crop report details pesticide usage in terms of weight, area and percentage of crop treated with pesticides. The Rodenticide report estimates rodenticide use on Scottish arable farms. Rodenticides are used to control rodents (rats and mice). Commentary is also provided on recent changes in survey data and longer term trends.

These statistics are used for a variety of purposes including informing Scottish Government Policy about the post-approval use of pesticides.

Further information on Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural statistics within Scotland.

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