Pesticide usage report: Arable crops 2012

Date published: 01 November 2013

Pesticide usage report: Arable crops 2012



This is the twelfth survey of pesticide usage practices on arable crops in Northern Ireland, providing comparative data to that obtained in the previous surveys in 1990, (Jess et al., 1992), 1992 (Jess et al., 1995), 1994 (Jess et al., 1997), 1996 (Jess et al., 2000), 1998 (Jess et al., 2002), 2000 (Withers et al., 2004), 2002 (Withers et al., 2004), 2004 (Withers et al., 2006) 2006 (Withers et al., 2007), 2008 (Withers et al.,2009) and 2010 (Withers et al.,2011) .

Information on all aspects of pesticide usage was collected from 204 holdings throughout the Province, representing 23% of the total area of arable crops grown. Quantitative data has been adjusted to provide estimates of total pesticide usage.

The total area of arable crops grown in Northern Ireland in 2012 was 41,856 hectares which was similar to the cropping area recorded in 2006. This represented a decrease of 3% compared to that recorded in 2010 and a 32% reduction compared to that recorded in the first pesticide usage survey of the arable sector, in 1990. Approximately 44% of the arable cropping area in 2012 was in County Down, 23% in County Londonderry, 18% in County Antrim, 8% in County Armagh and 7% in County Tyrone. This distribution is similar to that recorded in 2010, 2008 and 2006. There was no significant area of arable cropping in County Fermanagh.

A total of 348 products (including 8 adjuvants), comprising 145 active ingredients were recorded in use on field crops in the survey.

During the period 2010 to 2012, applications of all pesticide groups increased, with the area of arable crops treated with pesticides increasing by 11%, to 374,845 spray-hectares. This was a similar level to that recorded in 2008. Fungicide applications increased by 6%, with chlorothalonil, either applied as a single active ingredient or in combination, the most frequently applied to cereal crops, especially spring barley and winter wheat. Herbicides and desiccant applications increased by 11%. Glyphosate was the most frequently applied, accounting for 26% of herbicide and desiccant applications. Insecticide applications increased by 7% when compared with 2010 and the weight applied increased by 75%. Pyrethroids were the most frequently applied insecticides representing 89% of all insecticide applications. Esfenvalerate was the most frequently applied insecticide, primarily to spring barley and winter wheat crops, to control aphids. Growth regulator applications increased by 32% when compared to 2010. The principal growth regulator used in 2012 was chlormequat, which is consistent with previous surveys conducted in 1998-2010. In 2012, growth regulators were applied primarily to spring barley, winter barley, spring wheat and, most frequently, to winter wheat. Due to the adverse weather conditions during 2012 molluscicide applications increased four-fold when compared with 2010. An estimated 80% of molluscicide applications were to control slugs mostly on maincrop potato crops. The total weight of pesticides applied to arable crops in 2012 decreased to 132 tonnes of active ingredients, representing a 3% reduction compared with 2010 and 22 % and 44% reduction when compared with 2008 and 2006, respectively. Seed treatment applications increased by 11% and the weight applied increasing by 21%. In keeping with 2008 and 2010 data, the formulation prochloraz/triticonazole was the most commonly applied cereal seed treatment in 2012. This contrasted with 2004 and 2006 where the single active ingredient fludioxonil was the most commonly applied to these crops. The formulation imazalil/pencycuron was the most commonly applied seed treatment on potatoes.

During 2012, regional pesticide usage was related to the area of arable crops grown in each county. Pesticides were applied to 98% of the total area of arable crops grown in Northern Ireland in 2010 with a range of 1 – 11 applications per crop.

Fungicides were applied to 42% of the pesticide-treated area, accounting for 44% of the total weight of pesticides used. Herbicides and desiccants were applied to 30% of the pesticide-treated area, representing 39% of the total weight of pesticides used. Insecticides accounted for 8% of the pesticide-treated area of arable crops, representing 3% of the weight of pesticides used. Molluscicide treatments represented less than 1% of both area of application and weight of pesticides applied. Growth regulator usage accounted for 9% of the pesticide-treated area and 13% of the weight of active ingredients applied. Seed treatments were applied to 10% of the area of arable crops grown in 2010, representing 2% of the weight of active ingredients applied.

Potato crops comprised 10% of the area of arable crops grown in Northern Ireland in 2010, accounting for 20% of the total pesticide-treated area. However, the weight of pesticides applied to potato crops represented 30% of the total weight of pesticides used on all arable crops. The total area of potatoes grown comprised 82% maincrop, 13% seed and 5% early potato crops. Potato crops accounted for 32% of the area of arable crops treated with fungicides and received 47% of the total weight of fungicides applied. Furthermore, applications of herbicides and desiccants to potato crops represented 15% of the area treated and 20% of the weight applied of this pesticide group. The most commonly recorded fungicide applied to potato crops was fluazinam. Fluazinam was used on 32% of the fungicide-treated area and accounted for 11% of the weight of fungicide active ingredients applied. It was used primarily in maincrop potatoes to control blight (Phytophthora infestans) and for general disease control.

This was the eighth survey in which the cultivation of pea and bean crops was recorded.

Data of pesticide applications to Camelina crops was recorded for the first time. Camelina is a genus within the Brassicaceae family and is commonly known as false flax. It is grown for its oil component.

In addition to information concerning field applications of pesticides to crops, data relating to post-harvest/storage treatments applied to farm-stored potatoes were collected. It was estimated that 68,804 tonnes of potatoes were stored on-farm, following the 2012 growing season. This represented a 41% decrease compared with 2010. Ware potatoes accounted for 81% of the total quantity of stored potatoes, with seed potatoes representing the remainder. No early potatoes were recorded as stored. County Antrim and County Down accounted for 38% and 37% of all potatoes stored, respectively. Overall, approximately 12% of stored potatoes received pesticide treatment. Furthermore, 39% of seed potatoes and 6% of ware potatoes received treatment. Overall, a total of 218 kilogrammes of treatments were applied to 8,134 tonnes of potatoes. The sprout suppressant chlorpropham was the only pesticide applied to an estimated 3,183 tonnes of stored ware potatoes in Northern Ireland in 2010. However, imazalil was applied to 4,951 tonnes of stored seed potatoes both as a single active ingredient and in combination with thiabendazole. Approximately 51% of all potatoes in 2010 were stored in ‘refrigerated’ buildings and 26% in ‘barns’. Overall, 94% of potatoes were stored on-farm in boxes, while 6% were stored in bulk.

For further information on this work please contact: Pesticide usage monitoring group