Pesticide Usage in Scotland: Soft Fruit Crops 2022

This publication presents information from a survey of pesticide use on Soft Fruit Crops in Scotland during 2022.

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Executive summary

This report presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland during 2022. The crops surveyed included strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and other minor soft fruit crops.

It should be noted that as there was no June 2022 Agricultural Census, crop areas and as a result, 2022 pesticide usage estimates are based on 2021 crop census data (see Appendix 4 for full details). From the 2021 data, the estimated areas of soft fruit grown in Scotland was 2,198 hectares, including 39 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 81 holdings in 2022, collectively representing 61 per cent of the total 2021 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. 36,000 hectares (+ 12 per cent Relative Standard Error, RSE) with a combined weight of ca. 13 tonnes (+ 17 per cent RSE). Overall, pesticides were applied to 92 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, biological controls to 55 per cent, herbicides to 34 per cent, sulphur to 13 per cent and molluscicides to 11 per cent.

Taking into account changes in crop area, the 2022 total pesticide treated area was similar to that reported in 2020 and eight per cent higher than in 2018. The weight of pesticides applied to soft fruit crops in 2022 was 25 per cent lower than in 2020 and 29 per cent lower than in 2018. The application of all pesticide groups decreased since the previous survey in 2020 with the exception of biological control agents, biopesticides and physical controls which increased by 135, 129 and 108 per cent in treated area respectively. Use of biological and physical controls play an increasingly important part in growers Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes as the availability of active chemical substances become more restricted. As invertebrate biological control agents are applied by number of organisms rather than weight, only the area treated is recorded, which contributes to the reduction in overall weight of pesticides used. Biological (both biological control agents and biopesticides) and physical control products represented ca. 32 per cent of pesticide formulations used in 2022 in comparison to ca. 14 per cent in 2020. The biggest increase in use was in relation to invertebrate biological control agents (135 per cent increase from 2020) with a large number encountered for the first time in 2022 (Table 17).

In contrast, the application of sulphur, molluscicides, insecticides/ acaricides, herbicides/desiccants and fungicides decreased by 73, 59, 25, 25 and 14 per cent in treated areas respectively.

The most commonly used active substance, in terms of area treated, was the biological control agent Neoseiulus cucumeris. The fungicides pyraclostrobin and boscalid were the most used fungicides and Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713, spirotetramat and carfentrazone-ethyl were the most used biopesticide, insecticide/acaricide and herbicide/desiccant active substances respectively. Sulphur, which is used at high application rates, was the most commonly used pesticide by weight. This has been the case in every soft fruit survey since 2014.



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