This report presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2020. The crops surveyed included strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and other minor soft fruit crops.
The estimated area of soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2020 was 2,193 hectares, including 25 hectares of multi-cropping. Strawberries accounted for 56 per cent of the soft fruit area, other soft fruit crops 19 per cent, blackcurrants 14 per cent and raspberries 11 per cent. Data were collected from a total of 64 holdings, collectively representing 36 per cent of the total soft fruit crop area. Ratio raising was used to produce estimates of national pesticide use from the sampled data.
The estimated total area of soft fruit crops treated with a pesticide formulation (area grown multiplied by number of treatments) was ca. 35,950 hectares (+ 12 per cent Relative Standard Error, RSE) with a combined weight of ca. 17.2 tonnes (+13 per cent RSE). Overall, pesticides were applied to 90 per cent of the soft fruit crop area. Fungicides were applied to 86 per cent of the crop area, insecticides/acaricides to 83 per cent, herbicides to 34 per cent, biologicals to 47 per cent, molluscicides to 22 per cent and sulphur was applied to 32 per cent.
Taking into account changes in crop area, the 2020 total pesticide treated area was eight per cent higher than that reported in 2018 and 18 per cent higher than in 2016. The weight of pesticides applied to soft fruit crops in 2020 was six per cent lower than in 2018 and 11 per cent higher than in 2016. The application of physical controls, biological control agents, insecticides/ acaricides, sulphur and fungicides increased from the 2018 survey (544, 192, 27, 24 and four per cent increases in treated area respectively). The application of biopesticides, herbicides/desiccants and molluscicides decreased (61, 21 and 18 per cent decreases in treated area respectively).
Overall pesticide application to soft fruit crops was slightly higher in 2020 than reported in 2018 in terms of area treated but slightly lower in terms of weight applied. The different trends between these two metrics may have been influenced by the large increases in use of biological control agents which play an important part in growers Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes. Invertebrate biological control agents are applied by number of organisms rather than weight, therefore only the area treated is recorded, not the weight applied.
In terms of area treated, the fungicide fenhexamid was, as in 2016, the most commonly used active substance. Neoseiulus cucumeris, lambda-cyhalothrin and pendimethalin were the most used biological, insecticide/acaricide and herbicide/desiccant active substances respectively. Sulphur, which is used at high application rates, was the most commonly used pesticide by weight.
Data collected from growers about their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities showed that growers were using a variety of IPM methods in relation to risk management, pest monitoring and pest control. This dataset is the second in this series of surveys of IPM measures on soft fruit crops, allowing the adoption of IPM techniques to be monitored.