In 2018, the amount of pesticides used was nearly one-fourth lower than in 2013. This may have resulted from the dry growing season in 2018, which reduced the need for plant protection and its profitability. In addition, the cultivation areas of most cereals, potato and sugar beet were smaller in 2018 than in 2013.
Information about the use of pesticides in agriculture was collected from farmers in 2013 and 2018. The 2018 statistics released now include broad bean and caraway as new crops.
Pesticides were mostly used against weeds and plant diseases
“Of the total volume of pesticides used in 2018, 79 per cent were weed products and 17 per cent were plant disease products. These proportions are the same as in 2013. Glyphosate products included in weed products covered nearly half of the total use of pesticides in agriculture, both in 2013 and in 2018”, says Pasi Mattila, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
More pest products were used in 2018 than in 2013. This is largely explained by the extensive protection needed against large bird cherry-oat aphid populations in barley and oats. In addition, the exceptional silver Y invasion required protection in caraway, sugar beet, broad bean, turnip rape and rape.
Relative to the cultivation area, most pesticides were applied to sugar beets, potatoes, outdoor vegetables, strawberries and apples. This is related to the intense cultivation of these crops. The amount of pesticides applied and the treated area relative to the cultivation area were much lower for fodder grass than for other crops.
“Reporting the use of pesticides as the amounts of products emphasises agents that are used extensively per hectare. However, any adverse effects of pesticides do not depend directly on the amounts used, as their chemical properties are often the decisive factor”, Mattila says.
Background to the statistics
The statistics cover the major crops grown on fields and in outdoor horticultural production. The plants included in the scope of the data collection in 2018 represented 92 per cent of cultivated land in Finland and 81 per cent of the agricultural land in use. In addition, the farmers reported on the agricultural use of glyphosate products on their farms. The data collection included a total of about 9,000 farms. This data was used to estimate the use of pesticides on all Finnish farms. The use of pesticides in agriculture is compiled by Luke at five-year intervals.