Pesticide usage in Scotland: soft fruit 2020

This publication presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland during 2020.

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Appendix 3 - Definitions and notes

1) ‘Pesticide’ is used throughout this report to include commercial formulations containing active substances (a.s.) used as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, molluscicides, biological control agents, biopesticides, growth regulators, seed treatments and physical control. A pesticide product consists of one or more active substances co-formulated with other materials.

2) An active substance (or active ingredient) is any substance or micro-organism which has a general or specific action: against harmful organisms; or on plants, parts of plants or plant products.

3) In this report the term ‘formulation(s)’ is used to describe the pesticide active substance or mixture of active substances in a product(s). It does not refer to any of the solvents, pH modifiers or adjuvants also contained within a product that contribute to its efficacy.

4) Biological control is use of a micro-organism, such as a bacteria or virus, or, macro-organisms, such as insect predators or nematodes that are used to control insect pests, weeds and diseases. In this report biologicals which do not require to be authorised are referred to as biological control agents. These are generally macro-organisms such as parasites or predators. Biologicals which do require to be authorised like other pesticides are referred to as biopesticides. Biopesticides are pesticides that are derived from natural materials and include micro-organisms (bacteria, fungus, virus or protozoa) to control pest populations or compounds such as semio-chemicals that cause behavioural changes in the target pest. In previous surveys (before 2015) biopesticides were included in the biological control agent category.

5) A fungicide is a pesticide used to control fungal diseases in plants.

6) A herbicide is a pesticide used to control unwanted vegetation (weed killer). A desiccant is a pesticide used to dry out unwanted plant material.

7) An insecticide is a pesticide used to control unwanted insects. An acaricide is a pesticide used to control unwanted mites. As some products are approved for use against both insects and mites, insecticide and acaricide use has been combined in this report.

8) A molluscicide is a pesticide used to control unwanted slugs and snails.

9) A physical controlagent is a substance that is used to control pests with a mode of action that is physical. For example, by blocking insect spiracles and causing death by suffocation.

10) Basic area is the planted area of crop which was treated with a given pesticide or pesticide group, irrespective of the number of times it was applied to that area. Basic areas are not presented anywhere in the report, but their values are used to calculate the percentage of crop treated with a given pesticide or pesticide group.

11) Area treated is the basic area of a crop treated with a given pesticide multiplied by the number of treatments that area received. These terms are synonymous with “spray area” and “spray hectare” which have appeared in previous reports. For example, if a field of five hectares gets sprayed with the same fungicide twice, the basic area is five hectares, and the treated area is 10 hectares.

12) Non-protected crops are crops grown outdoors without any protection during their production cycle.

13) Protected crops are grown under both permanent protection and semi-permanent protection. Permanent protection refers to crops grown in glasshouses or polythene tunnels for the entire duration of their production cycle. Semi-permanent protection refers to crops grown outdoors which are covered with polythene tunnels at some stage during production.

14) Farmers/growers can apply pesticides to crops by a number of different methods. Multiple pesticides can be applied to a crop in a single tank mix. For example a crop could be sprayed with two different fungicides and an insecticide at the same time.

15) In this report data are reported in two formats. For each pesticide formulation (mixture of active substances in a product) the area treated and weight applied is reported. Areas and weights for individual active substances are not included in this report but are published in Excel format as supplementary tables. These different formats are provided to satisfy the needs of all data users and allow them to assess pesticide use trends. Some users may be interested in use of pesticide products which contain a number of active substances, thus formulation data would be required. Other users are interested in particular active substances which may be formulated on their own or in combination with other active substances. In addition, both weight and area of pesticide applications are important indicators of changes in use over time. Different pesticides are applied at different dose rates and only by comparing both area and weight can trends in use be elucidated.

16) It should be noted that some herbicides may not have been applied directly to the crop itself but either as land preparation treatments prior to sowing/planting the crop, or to the ground beneath crops grown on table tops or the pathways between the crops.

17) The June Agricultural Census(10) is conducted annually by the Scottish Government's Rural and Environmental Science Analytical Services (RESAS). The June Agricultural Census collects data on land use, crop areas, livestock and the number of people working on agricultural holdings. For this report the June Agricultural Census was used to draw a sample of farmers growing the relevant crops to participate in the survey.

18) Throughout this report the term ‘census area’ refers to the total area for a particular crop or group of crops recorded within the June Agricultural Census. These are the areas which the sampled areas are raised to. Please see Appendix 4 – survey methodology for details. The June Agricultural Census Form is divided up into different categories which relates to a particular crop or group of crops. These are referred to as ‘census categories’ throughout this report.

19) The areas of crop grown include successional sowings during the same season; therefore the areas of crops grown can be larger than the total area of glasshouses and polytunnels. This is referred to throughout the report as multi-cropping.

20) Where quoted in the text, reasons for application are the grower’s stated reasons for use of that particular pesticide on that crop and may not always seem appropriate. It should be noted that growers do not always provide reasons; therefore those presented only reflect those specified and may not reflect overall reasons for use.

21) Due to rounding, there may be slight differences in totals both within and between tables.

22) Data from the 2018(3) and 2016(4) surveys are provided for comparison purposes in some of the tables, although it should be noted that there may be minor differences in the range of crops surveyed, together with changes in areas of each of the crops grown. Changes from previous surveys are described in Appendix 4. When comparisons are made between surveys it is important to consider changes in the area of crop grown. In order to take this into account, comparisons have been made on a per hectare grown basis, i.e. the number of hectares that have been sprayed (treated hectares) has been divided by the area of crop grown for each survey, and the weight (kilograms) applied has also been divided by the area of crop grown. This is to enable like for like comparisons between surveys, so that changes in pesticide use patterns are not masked by changes in crop area.

23) The average number of applications indicated in the text for each crop is based on the occurrence of a pesticide group on at least ten per cent of the area grown. The average number of applications is calculated only on the areas receiving each pesticide group and therefore the minimum number of applications is always one. Several pesticides may be applied as a tank mix as part of the same spray event; therefore the average number of pesticide sprays reported is less than the sum of sprays of each pesticide group.

24) Table top systems are used where crops are grown on a structure built on stilts, straw bales or polystyrene blocks. This system reduces pest pressure and allows the fruit to be grown at a height which is easier for picking.

25) Ground mulch is a layer of material spread over the surface of the soil prior to planting in order to advance the crop by retaining heat. The mulch can be made of a material such as plastic or a biodegradable mesh. Natural materials such as grass cuttings or wood chippings are used too. If the mulch is opaque, it can also be used to suppress weed growth. Pots and bags can be placed on top of the mulch.

26) To aid pollination, some growers introduce pollinators to the tunnels to improve fruit set as naturally occurring pollinators are unable to access tunnels.

27) The age of crops are reported as soft fruit farms may have plants which are a range of ages in order to allow time for maturation of the crop allowing for a continuous supply of fruit.

28) The term harvested refers to plants that were harvested during 2020. This can include perennial crops planted the previous year and plants such as strawberries planted in early 2020. Some plants which are not harvested can include young plants such as raspberries which are normally harvested in their second year.

29) Fresh market refers to crops which are picked and sold to consumers without processing. This can include sales direct to the public or to supermarkets for resale.

30) Processing refers to crops normally grown under contract or sold for jam, pulp, juice, canning or freezing.

31) Pick-your-own refers to farms which operate a pick-your-own business on their soft fruit crops.

32) Integrated pest management (IPM). The sustainable use directive and the equivalent retained EU law(12) defines IPM as; “’integrated pest management’ means careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment. ‘Integrated pest management’ emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.”

33) In the pesticide tables, some pesticide treatments may be reported as ‘unspecified’. This description was used for occasions where the use of a particular treatment was reported by the grower, but they were unable to provide details of the product used. For these treatments, we are able to provide an area treated but no weight of pesticide used since the exact pesticide is unknown.



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