Pesticide usage in Scotland 2016: soft fruit crops

A revised version of this report has been issued to correct inaccuracies in active substance application weight data that were overestimated in the original report. This issue only affects certain herbicide active substances in relation to quantity applied. Please do not use the original version of this report as this has now been replaced by the revised 2020 report: Pesticide usage in Scotland 2016: soft fruit crops – revised 2020.

This publication presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland during 2016.

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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, 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 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).

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

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

9) A physical control agent is a substance that is used to control pests with a mode of action that is physical. For example, by blocking insect spiracles 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 crops 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 each pesticide is reported in three formats. The area of each pesticide is reported as both a formulation (mixture of active substances in a product) and as individual active substances. Quantities of active substance are also reported ( Tables 2 to 15 for formulation data, Tables 16 to 29 for active substance and quantity data). All three 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. Therefore active substance data would be required. In addition, both quantity 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 quantity 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 crops.

17) 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. No multi-cropping was encountered during the 2016 survey.

18) The June Agricultural Census (11) 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 growers growing the relevant crops to participate in the survey

19) 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 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.

20) Where quoted in the text or within figures, 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 in the figures 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 2014 soft fruit survey (3) and data amalgamated from the 2011 protected edible (5) and 2012 soft fruit (4) surveys are provided for comparison purposes in Table 36. However, 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 note that there may be 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) 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.

24) 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 mulch.

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

26) 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 the maturation of the crop allowing for a continuous supply of fruit.

27) The term harvested refers to plants that were harvested during 2016. This can include perennial crops planted the previous year and plants such as strawberries planted in early 2016. Some plants which are not harvested can include young plants such as raspberries which are normally harvested in their second year.

28) 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.

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

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

31) The average number of applications indicated in the text for each crop is based on the occurrence of a chemical group on at least ten per cent of the area grown. The average number of applications is calculated only on the areas using each pesticide group and therefore the minimum number of applications is always going to be 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 chemical group.

32) Integrated pest management The sustainable use directive (12) defines IPM as follows; “’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.”


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