Spring barley uses least plant protection products of arable crops

Each year the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine carries out pesticide usage surveys. These surveys rotate between different sectors each year.

The arable survey report was last published in 2016. 260 holdings were surveyed, representing 7.58% of the total area of arable crops grown in that season.

The report estimated that 1,058,461kg of active substances were applied to arable crops in 2016. This accounted for 34% of the total pesticides sold in that year.

120 different active substances were recorded.

How much active ingredient was applied per hectare?

The graph below shows the average weights of pesticides applied per hectare of crop grown in Ireland in kg/ha in 2016.

The average weights were calculated as the total weight of pesticides applied, divided by the total area of crop grown (treated or untreated).

Spring barley had the lowest amount of pesticide applied per hectare. Unsurprisingly, potatoes received the highest amount of pesticides and winter wheat followed. Potato blight and septoria in wheat attribute to increased levels of fungicide use on these crops.

Image source: DAFM

Total pesticides used on crops

Winter barley accounted for 25% of the total arable area in 2016 and accounted for 27% of the total pesticide-treated area. 29% of the total weight of pesticides was used on winter barley in 2016.

Spring barley accounted for the largest area of arable crops, taking up 37% of the arable area in 2016. However, it only accounted for 30% of the total pesticide-treated area and 22% of the total weight of pesticides used on arable crops in 2016.

In contrast, winter wheat took up 17% of the total arable crop area in 2016, but accounted for 23% of the total pesticide-treated area and 25% of the total weight of pesticides used on all crops in 2016.

One of the most notable crops was potatoes. Potatoes accounted for 3% of the arable area grown in 2016 and accounted for 5% of the total pesticide-treated area and 9% of the total weight of pesticides used on all crops.

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What pesticides were used?

Across the arable cropping area, 44% of the pesticide-treated area was treated with fungicides and this accounted for 46% of the total weight of pesticides used.

Herbicides were applied to 28% of the pesticide-treated area and accounted for 31% of the total weight of pesticides used.

Plant growth regulators were applied to 11% of the pesticide-treated area and accounted for 18% of the weight of active substance applied.

Insecticides were applied to 9% of the pesticide-treated area and represented 2% of the weight of pesticides applied.

Seed treatments were used on 8% of the pesticide-treated area, accounting for 2% of the weight of active substances applied.

The table below shows the weight (kg) of pesticides applied to arable crops treated in Ireland in 2016, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Data source: DAFM

Ireland’s average pesticide use

Ireland uses a relatively low volume of pesticides compared to other EU countries at just 0.7kg/ha of utilised agricultural land. The average in the EU is 2.2kg/ha of utilised agricultural land.

Survey notes

Quantitative data was adjusted to provide estimates of total pesticide usage.

Pesticides include both plant protection products (including, for the purpose of this report, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, molluscicides, biological controls and seed treatments) and biocides.

The treated area refers to the total area treated with a pesticide which includes all repeated applications to the basic area. This is measured in ‘spray hectares’ (basic area X number of spray applications = spray hectares).

Over the next few days AgriLand will bring readers information on pesticide usage in Ireland on tillage, fodder and grass crops, along with information on pesticides not used in agriculture.