This report presents information from a survey of pesticide use on soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2016. The crops surveyed included strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and other minor soft fruit crops.
The estimated area of soft fruit crops grown in Scotland in 2016 was 1,876 hectares. Sixty eight per cent of this area was grown under permanent or semi-permanent protection. Strawberries accounted for 53 per cent of the soft fruit area, raspberries 18 per cent, blackcurrants 16 per cent and other soft fruit crops 13 per cent. Data were collected from a total of 47 holdings, representing 21 per cent of the total soft fruit crop area. Ratio raising was used to produce estimates of national pesticide usage from the sampled data.
The estimated total area of soft fruit crops treated with a pesticide formulation (area grown multiplied by no. of treatments) was ca. 26,000 hectares (± 10 per cent Relative Standard Error, RSE). The pesticides used had a combined weight of ca. 14,700 kilograms (± 19 per cent RSE). Overall, pesticides were applied to 94 per cent of the soft fruit crop area. Insecticides/acaricides were applied to 88 per cent, fungicides to 86 per cent, herbicides to 62 per cent, biologicals to 30 per cent, sulphur to 23 per cent and molluscicides to 12 per cent.
When pesticide application data are corrected for the area of crop grown, there were around 14 pesticide treated hectares for each hectare of crop grown in 2016. This represents a decrease of 32 per cent from the previous survey in 2014 and 33 per cent from 2011/12. The estimated quantity of pesticides applied per hectare of crop grown was approximately 8 kilograms in 2016. This represents a decrease of 42 per cent since 2014 and 38 per cent since 2011/12.
Overall pesticide application was lower in 2016 than reported in 2014. With the exception of the use of biological control agents which increased in use by 28 per cent between 2014 and 2016, there were reductions in the use of all other pesticide groups. This reduction in pesticide use may have been influenced by factors such as cooler climatic conditions and lower pest pressure in 2016 than in the previous survey. It may also have been influenced by changes in the size and distribution of the sample resulting from a low survey response rate.
In terms of area treated, the fungicide myclobutanil was the most commonly used active substance. Diquat, lambda-cyhalothrin and Bacillus subtilis were the most used herbicide, insecticide and biological active substances respectively. Sulphur was the most commonly used pesticide by weight.
Data collected from growers about their Integrated Pest Management ( IPM) activities showed that the majority of growers were using a variety of IPM methods in relation to risk management, pest monitoring and pest control.