Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Rodenticides on Arable Farms

This report presents the results of a survey of rodenticide use on arable farms in Scotland in 2022.

Executive summary

This report presents the results of a survey of rodenticide use on 298 arable farms in Scotland in 2022, collectively growing eight per cent of the 2022 arable crop area. Data from this sample were used to estimate total Scottish rodenticide use in this crop sector.

Rodenticides were used on an estimated 52 per cent of all arable farms in 2022, decreasing from 61 per cent reported in 2020 and 55 per cent reported in 2018. Farmers conducted the baiting on 46 per cent of holdings using rodenticides and applied 32 per cent of rodenticides by weight, almost halving their share of bait laid by weight compared to 2020. The remainder was applied by pest control professionals (PCPs). In 2022, arable farms used an estimated 40 tonnes of rodenticide products, a 35 per cent decrease since 2020 and 18 per cent decrease since 2018. The products used contained ca. 2.8 kg of rodenticide active substance. As in previous surveys, almost all products used (>99 per cent) were second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, primarily bromadiolone and difenacoum (90 per cent by weight), although the percentage of farms using brodifacoum increased significantly compared to 2020 (16 per cent compared to seven per cent in 2020 and from three per cent to 10 per cent by weight).

Forty-six per cent of rodenticides were applied year round, either permanently or in multiple individual baiting operations. This is similar to 2020 (45 per cent) but a large decrease from 2018 (61 per cent). Most rodenticides were used in autumn and winter (59 per cent). As in previous years, grain-based baits were the most common product type (93 per cent) targeting mainly rats, either alone (40 per cent) or combined with mice (57 per cent). Forty-six per cent of farms that did not use rodenticides and 46 per cent of those that did, employed non-chemical rodent control; most commonly cats and traps.

Eighty per cent of farmers were aware of rodenticide stewardship, of these 43 per cent had completed stewardship compliant training and 30 per cent planned to in the future. As in previous surveys, all PCPs had completed training, and this was significantly greater than uptake by farmers. As in 2020, the majority of farmers and PCPs stated that they complied with all elements of best practice. In relation to farm operation, farmers that applied rodenticides were significantly more likely to be members of a quality assurance scheme, to have a grain store and to have livestock than farmers that did not use rodenticides.

This dataset is the fourth in this series since the industry led stewardship scheme was introduced in 2015. Despite an increase in rodenticide use and reduction in the use of PCPs in 2020, the 2022 survey resumed the downward trend in rodenticide usage reported in 2018 and 2016 and continued uptake of best practice which was likely to have been influenced by the introduction of stewardship and regulatory changes. However, use of non-chemical methods declined in 2022 compared to previous surveys. It remains possible that rat populations, farmer use of PCPs and, as a consequence, bait volumes were impacted by COVID-19 restrictions during 2020.



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