Reports show reduction in pesticide use in Scotland in 2018

19 November 2019

Article: 53/4609

The use of pesticides on arable crops grown in Scotland declined in 2018, according to three new statistical publications from the Scottish Government. A reduction in the use of rodenticides used to control rodents on arable farms was also recorded. 

Overall, pesticide applications to Scottish arable crops in 2018 were 4% lower than in a previous survey in 2016. 98% of arable crops were treated with a pesticide in 2018. The treated area received on average 3.9 pesticide sprays with a total combined application weight of 1,312 tonnes.

In relation to pesticide use on stored potatoes, 28% of seed potatoes and 13% of ware potatoes were treated with a pesticide in 2018. These proportions are lower than reported in 2016 for seed potatoes and similar than 2016 for ware potatoes.

93% of soft fruit crops in Scotland were treated with pesticides. The treated area received on average 11.2 pesticide sprays with a total combined weight of 17 tonnes. Overall pesticide application was 10% higher in 2018 than reported in 2016. 

The use of biopesticides and biological control agents has increased since the previous survey for managing insect pests and disease in soft fruit crops as part of an integrated pest management system.

It was estimated that rodenticides were used on 55% of arable farms in 2018, a reduction from the 78% using rodenticides in 2016. Approximately 49 tonnes of rodenticide bait, containing less than 6kg of active substance, was estimated to have been used. This was 47% lower than in the previous survey in 2016. 

The rodenticides encountered were almost exclusively second generation anticoagulant compounds. It is likely that the decreased rodenticide usage, increased adoption of non-chemical control and increased uptake of best practice reported in 2018 has been influenced by the introduction of the 2015 industry led rodenticide stewardship scheme.

Source: Scottish Government, 13 November 2019