Pesticide usage report: Soft fruit crops 2014

Date published: 20 November 2015

Pesticide usage report: Soft fruit crops 2014



This report presents information from a survey of pesticide usage practices on soft fruit crops in Northern Ireland in 2014.  Data was collected from 11 growers representing 41% of all soft fruit holdings in Northern Ireland.  The data have been raised using IBM SPSS Statistics software to give estimates of regional pesticide usage.  Due to the small sample size, figures may be subject to significant variation, though the estimates indicate correlation with surveys conducted in 2010 and 2006.

Compared with the previous survey, carried out in 2012, the total area of soft fruit crops grown decreased by 11% to approximately 16 hectares but the area treated with pesticides (spray hectares) increased by 77% between 2012 and 2014, mainly due to increased fungicide use in non-protected strawberry crops.  This may be attributable to periods of unsettled weather.  

A total of 88 kilograms of pesticides were applied to 128 spray hectares of soft fruit crops in 2014.  Strawberries were the most commonly produced soft fruit (protected, semi-protected and non-protected), with 79 kilograms of pesticides being applied to 114 spray hectares.  This represented 89% of both the total weight of pesticides applied and the area treated.

Fungicide usage increased by 73% compared with 2012.  Fungicides were applied to 68% of the total pesticide-treated area representing 91% of the total weight of pesticides used in 2014.  Iprodione and azoxystobin were the fungicides applied to the largest area whilst iprodione and fenhexamid were the most frequently used fungicides by weight applied.  Sulphur was used as a fungicide on protected and semi-protected strawberries for the treatment of strawberry powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis).

Herbicide usage increased by an estimated 93% compared with 2012 but decreased by 57% when compared with 2006.  Herbicide active ingredients were applied to 9% of the total pesticide-treated area (19% of the total weight of pesticides used) with pendimethalin being the most commonly used herbicide.  

Insecticide and acaricide usage increased by 110% when compared with 2012, and 24% compared with 2010.  Insecticide and acaricide active ingredients accounted for 21% of the total pesticide-treated area and 7% of the total weight of pesticides applied in 2014.  The chloronicotinyl insecticide thiacloprid was the most frequently applied active substance, primarily on strawberries, replacing clofentezine as the most commonly used insecticide/acaricide type.  Aphids were the primary reason for insecticide/acaricide use during this survey period.

Biopesticides (including invertebrate parasites and predators) were applied to < 1% of the treated area in 2014, compared with 3% in 2012.  Applications were principally to control vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus), with Steinernema kraussei being the most commonly used biopesticide.

Molluscicides were applied to approximately 0.5 hectares of strawberries (both protected and non-protected), for the control of slugs.  Metaldehyde and methiocarb were the only recorded molluscicide active substances used during soft fruit production in 2014.

‘Other products’ refer to active ingredients, which are derived completely from natural ingredients but are not classified as ‘plant protection products’.  Approximately 19 kg of these were applied to semi-protected strawberries for spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) and foliar feed.  

For further information on this work please contact: Pesticide Usage Monitoring Group