Pesticide Usage Report: Soft fruit crops 2016

Date published: 29 November 2017

Pesticide Usage Report: Soft fruit crops 2016



This report presents information from a survey of pesticide usage practices on soft fruit crops in Northern Ireland in 2016.  Data were collected from 7 growers representing 29% of all soft fruit holdings in Northern Ireland.  Quantitative data has been adjusted to provide estimates of total pesticide usage.  A survey of the total population was not possible due to non-participation of growers.

Soft fruit cultivation is a very minor sector of agricultural production in Northern Ireland and includes a range of crops grown on relatively small areas, which receive varying degrees of pesticide application.  These factors lead to greater statistical uncertainty associated with the estimates produced and, whilst these data give an indication of pesticide use in this sector, they are less statistically robust than the estimates from the other reports in this series and should be interpreted accordingly.

Compared with the previous survey, carried out in 2014, the total area of soft fruit crops grown decreased by 9% to approximately 15 hectares and the area treated with pesticides (spray hectares) decreased by 72%.  

A total of 23 kilograms of pesticides were applied to 36 spray hectares of soft fruit crops in 2016.  Strawberries were the most commonly produced soft fruit (protected, semi-protected and non-protected), with 17 kilograms of pesticides being applied to 27 spray hectares.  This represented 76% of the total pesticide-treated area and 73% of the total quantity of pesticides applied.

Fungicide usage decreased by 84% compared with 2014.  Fungicides were applied to 38% of the total pesticide-treated area, representing 36% of the total weight of pesticides used in 2016.  Fenhexamid and iprodione were the fungicides applied to the largest area and were also the most frequently used fungicides by weight applied.  Grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) and powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis) were the main reasons given for fungicide use on strawberries.

Herbicide usage increased by an estimated 51% compared with 2014.  Herbicide active ingredients were applied to 46% of the total pesticide-treated area (56% of the total weight of pesticides used) with glyphosate and propyzamide both accounting for 32% of the herbicide-treated area.  Glyphosate, however, accounted for only 7% of the weight of herbicides applied. 

Insecticide and acaricide usage, which increased by 110% in 2014 when compared with 2012, decreased by 79% in 2016.  Insecticide and acaricide active ingredients accounted for 16% of the total pesticide-treated area and 8% of the total weight of pesticides applied in 2016.  The selective insecticide and acaricide abamectin was the most frequently applied active substance, primarily on strawberries, replacing thiacloprid as the most commonly used insecticide/acaricide type.  Aphids were the primary reason for insecticide/acaricide use during this survey period.

Biopesticides were applied to <1% of the treated area in 2016, compared with 1% in 2014.  Applications were to control grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) and caterpillars, with Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus thuringiensis respectively the only biopesticides used.

There were no molluscicides or ‘other products’ (derived completely from natural ingredients but not classified as ‘plant protection products’) recorded as used on soft fruit during this survey period.