This report presents the results of a survey of rodenticide use on farms growing arable crops in Scotland in 2016. Information was collected from 240 holdings, representing three per cent of arable farms, and was used to estimate total rodenticide use in Scottish arable agriculture.
It was estimated that rodenticides were used on 78 per cent of all arable farms in 2016, which is similar to that reported in previous surveys. Pest control professionals ( PCPs) conducted the baiting on 40 per cent of holdings using rodenticides, and applied 48 per cent of rodenticides by weight.
An estimated 91 tonnes of rodenticide products were used in 2016, which was a decrease from the previous two surveys (30 and 19 per cent lower than 2012 and 2014 respectively). These products contained less than five kg of rodenticide active substance. Almost all rodenticides used were second generation anticoagulants. As in previous surveys, the most frequently used compounds were bromadiolone and difenacoum.
Just under half of farms (46 per cent) conducted rodenticide baiting throughout the year, with more rodenticides used in autumn and winter (64 per cent) than in spring and summer. Grain baits were the most common type of rodenticides encountered (86 per cent of total use) and the main targets were rats (58 per cent) or a combination of rats and mice (39 per cent).
Sixty one per cent of farms that did not use rodenticides, and 26 per cent of those that did, employed non-chemical rodent control. The most common methods were cats and traps, but dogs and shooting were also encountered.
Survey respondents were asked about their knowledge of rodenticide stewardship, training attainment, compliance with best practice and aspects of farm operation. Significantly more PCPs were aware of rodenticide stewardship than farmers (100 and 68 per cent respectively). As in previous surveys, significantly more PCPs had received rodenticide use training than farmers (100 and 11 per cent respectively). In relation to best practice, the majority of both farmers and PCPs stated that they complied with all elements identified. However, in a change from previous surveys, fewer PCPs stated that they practised permanent baiting in 2016 and, for the first time, there was no statistical difference between user groups in relation to this question. As in previous surveys, farmers were significantly less likely to search for and remove rodent carcasses than PCPs. In relation to farm operation, farmers that practised rodenticide baiting were significantly more likely to be members of a quality assurance scheme and to have a grain store than farmers that did not use rodenticides.
This dataset is the first to be produced since the industry led stewardship scheme was introduced in 2015 and subsequent HSE rodenticide product reauthorisations in 2016. Whilst some changes in use pattern and uptake of best practice have been encountered in this survey it is not possible to conclusively link these to stewardship and regulatory changes. However this data series will be useful to monitor changes which may occur in future.