Pesticide Usage Report: Soft Fruit Crops 2018

Date published: 23 October 2019

Pesticide Usage Report - Soft Fruit 2018




This report presents information from a survey of pesticide usage practices on soft fruit crops in Northern Ireland in 2018.  Data were collected from 9 growers representing 35% 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 primarily 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 2016, the total area of soft fruit crops grown increased by 16% to approximately 17 hectares and the area treated with pesticides (spray hectares) increased by 46%.  


A total of 25 kilograms of pesticides were applied to 52 spray hectares of soft fruit crops in 2018.  Strawberries were the most commonly produced soft fruit (protected, semi-protected and non-protected), with 20 kilograms of pesticides being applied to 45 spray hectares.  This represented approximately 85% of both the total pesticide-treated area and the total quantity of pesticides applied.


Fungicide usage increased 2-fold when compared with 2016.  Fungicides were applied to 54% of the total pesticide-treated area, representing 56% of the total weight of pesticides used in 2018.  Azoxystrobin and iprodione were the fungicides applied to the largest area. Iprodione and fenhexamid 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, applied to the inter-row area of non-protected crops, decreased by an estimated 47% compared with 2016.  Herbicide active ingredients were applied to 17% of the total pesticide-treated area (35% of the total weight of pesticides used) with propyzamide, napropamide and pendimethalin collectively accounting for 82% of the herbicide-treated area and 86% of the weight of herbicides applied.


Insecticide and acaricide usage increased by 21% in 2018 when compared with 2016.  Insecticide and acaricide active ingredients accounted for 13% of the total pesticide-treated area and 3% of the total weight of pesticides applied in 2018.  The insecticide and acaricide dimethoate and acaricide etoxazole and were the most frequently applied active substances and were only applied to strawberries.  General insect control was the principal reason for insecticide/acaricide use during this survey period. Other reasons included aphids, caterpillar, red spider mites and sawfly.


Biopesticides were applied to 7% of the treated area in 2018, compared with <1% in 2016.  Bacillus subtilis was the most commonly applied biopesticide accounting for 77% of the biopesticide treated area. Biopesticide applications were to control grey mould (Botrytis cinerea), Rhizoctonia, powdery mildew in strawberries (Podosphaera aphanis), caterpillars and vine weevil. Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus thuringiensis and Steinernema feltiae, Gliocladium catenulatum and Steinernema kraussei were the only biopesticides used.


Molluscicides were only applied to non-protected crops and accounted for 5% of the total pesticide treated area and 2% of the weight of pesticides applied.


‘Other products’ (derived completely from natural ingredients but not classified as ‘plant protection products’) accounted for 3% of the pesticide treated area and 4% of the weight of pesticides applied.