Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Outdoor Vegetable Crops 2015

Information from a survey of pesticide use on vegetable crops grown for human consumption in Scotland during 2015.

This document is part of a collection


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 Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture ( SASA), a division of the Scottish Government's Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities Directorate.

This survey is part of a series of annual reports which are produced to detail pesticide usage in Scotland for arable, vegetable, soft fruit and protected edible 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. Also available at:

The Scottish Pesticide Usage reports have been designated as Official Statistics since August 2012 and as National Statistics since October 2014. The Chief Statistician (Roger Halliday) 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 confidentiality and revision policies, user feedback and detailed background information on survey methodology.

Additional information regarding pesticide use can be supplied by the Pesticide Survey unit. Please email or visit the survey unit webpage:

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 of recent changes in survey data and longer term trends. The 2015 pesticide usage section summarises the pesticide usage on all outdoor vegetable crops in 2015. Appendix 1 presents all estimated pesticide usage in three formats (area of formulations and area and quantity of active substances). 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 for all growers collecting details of their Integrated Pest Management ( IPM) activities ( i.e. includes non-chemical methods of control).

Data uses

The data presented here are used for a number of purposes including:

  • Informing UK and Scottish Government Policy about the post-approval use of pesticides
  • Aiding Government officials in their response to Scottish Parliamentary and Ministerial questions regarding the use of pesticides
  • To inform and complement research projects conducted by agricultural research institutions
  • To inform and prioritise monitoring strategies of environmental quality bodies
  • To provide data to the pesticide industry to allow insight into the use patterns of pesticide products
  • To provide information to interested or concerned environmental and wildlife groups and members of the public
  • To provide an educational resource for teaching and student research projects

Case studies of how the Scottish dataset has been used are provided on the SASA webpage.


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