This report presents information from a survey of pesticide use on outdoor vegetable crops grown for human consumption in Scotland during 2021. The crops surveyed included vining peas, broad beans, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, carrots, turnips & swedes and other minor vegetable crops.
In 2021 the census area of outdoor vegetable crops grown in Scotland was approximately 22,100 hectares. This represents an 18 per cent increase in area from the previous survey in 2019 and a 14 per cent increase from 2017. The principal outdoor vegetable crops grown in Scotland were peas and beans accounting for 53 per cent of the cropped area. Leaf brassicas accounted for 17 per cent, carrots 16 per cent, turnips & swedes seven per cent and other vegetable crops six per cent.
Data was collected from a total of 73 holdings, representing 10 per cent of the total vegetable area grown in Scotland. Ratio raising was used to produce estimates of national pesticide usage from sampled data. The estimated total area of outdoor vegetable crops treated with a pesticide formulation was ca. 149,200 ha (± 9 per cent Relative Standard Error, RSE) with a combined weight of ca. 53.6 tonnes (± 9 per cent RSE). Overall, pesticides were applied to 89 per cent of the vegetable crop area, a decrease from 96 per cent in 2019. Herbicides were applied to 84 per cent of the crop area, fungicides to 75 per cent, insecticides to 42 per cent, molluscicides to 13 per cent and 28 per cent of seed was treated.
Taking into account changes in crop area, the 2021 total pesticide treated area was 28 per cent lower than that reported in the previous survey in 2019 and 23 per cent lower than in 2017. The weight of pesticides applied to vegetable crops per hectare was 38 per cent lower in 2021 than in 2019 and 28 per cent less when compared to 2017. The application of fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, seed treatments and growth regulators have decreased since 2019 (20, 41,16, 64 and 68 per cent decreases in treated area respectively). The area treated with molluscicides was similar in 2019 and 2021. An increase in the use of physical control agents was recorded in 2021 with area treated 193 per cent higher than in 2019. Overall, pesticide application to vegetable crops was substantially lower in 2021 than in 2019 and 2017. This decline in overall pesticide use in 2021 may have been influenced by a number of factors such as the withdrawal of a number of key active substances from the market reducing pesticide availability, and possibly driving greater use of integrated control strategies. The cold, dry, late spring, and dry summer may also have helped reduce pest and pathogen pressure on crops in 2021, reducing the need for pesticide application.
In terms of area treated, the most used foliar fungicide active substances were boscalid and pyraclostrobin. Lambda-cyhalothrin and pendimethalin were the most used insecticide and herbicide active substances respectively. Cymoxanil, fludioxonil and metalaxyl-M, were the most used seed treatment active substances. The herbicide bromoxynil, the nematicide fluopyram and fungicides fluxapyroxad, oxathiapiprolin and benthiavalicarb were recorded for the first time on outdoor vegetable crops in this survey.
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