The Scottish Government (SG) is required by legislation(1)(2) to carry out post-approval surveillance of pesticide use. This is conducted by the Pesticide Survey Unit at SASA, a division of the Scottish Government's Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate.
This survey is part of a series of annual reports which are produced to detail pesticide usage in Scotland for arable, vegetable and soft fruit crops on a biennial basis and for fodder and forage crops every four years. The Scottish survey data are incorporated with England, Wales and Northern Ireland data to provide estimates of annual UK-wide pesticide use. Information on all aspects of pesticide usage in the United Kingdom as a whole may be obtained from the Pesticide Usage Survey Team at Fera Science Ltd, Sand Hutton, York, or visit the Fera pesticide usage survey webpage.
The Scottish Pesticide Usage reports have been designated as Official Statistics since August 2012 and as National Statistics since October 2014. The interim Chief Statistician (Ally McAlpine) acts as the statistics Head of Profession for the Scottish Government and has overall responsibility for the quality, format, content and timing of all Scottish Government national statistics publications, including the pesticide usage reports. As well as working closely with Scottish Government statisticians, SASA receive survey specific statistical support from Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS).
All reports are produced according to a published timetable. For further information in relation to Pesticide Survey Unit publications and their compliance with the code of practice please refer to the pesticide usage survey section of the SASA website The website also contains other useful documentation such as SASA privacy policies and SASA revision policies, a pesticide usage report feedback survey and detailed background information on the survey methodology used and uses of the PSU pesticide usage dataset.
Structure of report and how to use these statistics
This report is intended to provide data in a useful format to a wide variety of data users. The general trends section provides commentary on recent changes in survey data and longer-term trends. The 2021 pesticide usage section summarises usage on all grassland and fodder crops in 2021. Appendix 1 presents all estimated pesticide usage in three formats, area and weight of formulations by crop and area and weight of active substances grouped by their mode of action. The area and weight of active substances by crop data, which were previously published in this report, are now published as supplementary data in Excel format. These different measures are provided to satisfy the needs of different data users (see Appendix 3 for examples). Appendix 2 summarises survey statistics including census and holding information, raising factors and survey response rates. Appendix 3 defines many of the terms used throughout the report. Appendix 4 describes the methods used during sampling, data collection and analysis as well as measures undertaken to avoid bias and reduce uncertainty. Any changes in method from previous survey years are also explained.
It is important to note that the figures presented in this report are produced from surveying a sample of holdings rather than a census of all the holdings in Scotland. Therefore, the figures are estimates of the total pesticide use for Scotland and should not be interpreted as exact. To give an idea of the precision of estimates, the report includes relative standard errors. A full explanation of standard errors can be found in Appendix 5. Appendix 6 outlines the results of an additional survey which was conducted to collect details of the growers' Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities i.e. risk management, pest monitoring and non-chemical methods of control.
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