Publication - Statistics

Pesticide usage in Scotland: arable crops and potato stores 2016

Published: 31 Oct 2017
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural

This publication presents information from a survey of pesticide use on arable crops and potato stores in Scotland during 2016.

Pesticide usage in Scotland: arable crops and potato stores 2016
Appendix 6 – Integrated pest management

Appendix 6 – Integrated pest management

It is a requirement of the EU Sustainable use of Pesticides Directive (2009/128/ EC) (14) that member states should promote low pesticide input pest management, in particular Integrated Pest Management ( IPM).

The Directive defines IPM as follows "'integrated pest management' means careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment. 'Integrated pest management' emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms."

As part of this survey, additional data collection was conducted in relation to grower adoption of Integrated Pest Management ( IPM) measures. The term 'pest' is used to denote diseases, weeds and pests. This data collection was designed to inform the Scottish Government about the current adoption of IPM in the main crop sectors.

All growers were asked a series of questions about the IPM activities that they were implementing for their arable crop production. Unlike the other statistics in this report, the figures reported in this section are not raised (i.e. are not national estimates) but represent only the responses of those surveyed.

In total IPM data was collected from 113 farmers, representing 123 holdings and 52 per cent of the sampled arable crop area (four per cent of census area). Of these farmers, 76 per cent did not have an IPM plan, 15 per cent of farmers completed their own IPM plan and nine per cent had a plan completed by their agronomist ( Figure 57). Completing an IPM plan is voluntary for Scottish farmers, but this helps meet their legal obligation to take reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment when using pesticides. Completing an IPM plan will help the landowner/contractor to make the best possible and most sustainable use of all available methods for controlling pests, weeds and diseases.

Figure 57 Percentage of respondents with an IPM plan

Figure 57 Percentage of respondents with an IPM plan

Farmers were asked about their IPM activities in relation to three categories; risk management, pest monitoring and pest control. Information was collected about all activities growers conducted in relation to each category. Despite the fact that the majority of growers did not complete an IPM plan, uptake of a wide range of IPM activities was encountered.

Risk management

IPM programs aim to prevent or reduce the risk of pests becoming a threat by minimising the risk of damage occurring that will require subsequent control. Table 52 presents an overview of the risk management measures adopted by the growers surveyed. All the growers sampled used one or more risk management activity.

Eighty eight per cent of the farmers reported that they used crop rotation to manage the risk of pest damage. Rotation is a basic principle of farming, breaking the link between pathogen and host and reducing pest population build-up. It can also improve soil fertility and structure, consequently increasing the vigour of subsequent crops.

Nearly all of the farmers (96 per cent) stated that they tested their soil in order to tailor inputs to improve crop performance. Ninety two per cent tested soil nutrient levels with lower proportions testing for nematodes (including free living nematodes and potato cyst nematodes), disease (including powdery scab and clubroot), leatherjackets and wheat bulb fly ( Figure 58). By testing for nutritional and pest status, farmers' can make informed decisions about inputs required and optimal crop choice for that field.

Ninety three per cent of farmers reported that they managed their seed bed agronomy to reduce risk. Sixty per cent increased soil organic matter to improve soil quality, 44 per cent used rotational ploughing, 41 per cent used non-inversion tillage including minimum tillage or strip tillage and 15 per cent used direct drilling ( Figure 59). The majority of non-inversion tillage and direct drilling was conducted in winter oilseed rape crops.

Forty four per cent of farmers stated that they amended cultivation methods at sowing to try to increase crop success. Twenty one per cent varied the sowing rate, 14 per cent used under-sowing, 13 per cent varied the date of sowing and 12 per cent varied the sowing density to mitigate for potential pest damage ( Figure 60).

Ninety three per cent of the farmers sampled also reported that they considered risk management when selecting seeds and/or varieties. Eighty six per cent of farmers used seed treatments to protect seedlings at crop emergence. Fifty two per cent of farmers selected pest resistant varieties, where available, to reduce damage. Forty three per cent used certified seed and 39 per cent tested home saved seed. Some growers (17 per cent) also reported that they chose to adopt varietal diversification (using a range of different varieties) to increase overall resistance to pests and environmental stresses ( Figure 61).

Twenty seven per cent of respondents sowed catch or cover crops as part of their crop production cycle. These crops were cultivated to improve soil quality (19 per cent), to control weeds (4 per cent), to manage soil pests (4 per cent) and also to comply with for Ecological Focus Area ( EFA) rules, as a companion crop and to reduce run-off from the soil ( Figure 62). When farmers were asked details of the types of catch or cover crops grown, 50 per cent of crops reported were mixes and 50 per cent were straight crops. The most commonly reported mix used was a vetch mix and the most commonly reported straight crop was clover.

Finally, 88 per cent of farmers sampled stated that they adopted techniques to protect or enhance populations of beneficial organisms. Sixty eight per cent of farmers left uncultivated areas including fallow, 12 per cent had grass margins, 10 per cent planted wild flower strips and 10 per cent took part in agri-environment schemes. Others (25 per cent) established beetle banks, hedges, ponds and wetland ( Figure 63).