Centre for Ecology Logo

First national maps of pesticide and fertiliser use

Innovative new datasets, estimating the amount of pesticides and fertilisers used in each 1km square in England annually, have been produced by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The data will provide researchers, water companies and policy-makers with more information on the likely extent of pesticide and fertiliser use across landscapes so they can work with the agricultural industry to develop more sustainable farming methods, including greater efficiency in agrochemical application.

John Redhead, Spatial Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “These sophisticated datasets are based on comprehensive modelling. They are the first of their kind to provide estimated usage rates of about 130 different pesticides and the main types of manufactured fertiliser at such a detailed resolution – 1km by 1km squares – on a national scale.”

The two new products, CEH Land Cover® plus Pesticides and CEH Land Cover® plus Fertilisers, will have a number of benefits. They will:

  • Enable researchers to make better informed assessments about relative chemical exposure risk to wildlife, including pollinating insects.
  • Provide water companies with indications of areas where there could be potential for chemical contamination of water courses through runoff, so they can work with farmers to reduce these risks.
  • Provide a sound evidence base to inform policies to support sustainable agriculture.

Mr Redhead says: “Many in the agricultural sector are concerned about increased regulation of pesticides and limited options for controlling pests. These datasets ensure researchers and policymakers can work with detailed information so future strategies and policies can be well designed to keep agriculture sustainable from the perspective of both the environment and the farmer.”

CEH Land Cover® plus Pesticides and CEH Land Cover® plus Fertilisers are the latest additions to the pioneering land cover map series produced by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in collaboration with Remote Sensing Applications Consultants Ltd.

The existing CEH Land Cover® plus Crops dataset, which has been produced each year since 2015, uses satellite-based data to provide a highly accurate picture of cropping patterns – both the type of crop planted and how much land it occupies – for two million fields in Great Britain.

CEH has combined the data with county-level information from official government surveys that estimate average rates of pesticide and fertiliser use per hectare for each crop.

This has enabled modelling for individual 1km by 1km squares, with estimates for annual usage, in kilogrammes, of each of the three main types of manufactured fertilisers – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium – and about 130 different types of pesticides including glyphosate and metaldehyde.

At present, the datasets cover the estimated fertiliser use across England, and for pesticide use, across England and Wales. There are plans to extend both to cover the whole of Great Britain in the near future.

Disclaimer: The publication of AGI member press releases is a member service. The AGI neither approves or endorses the contents of a member’s press release, nor makes any assurance of their factual accuracy.