Use of pesticides in agriculture

What does the survey comprise


To obtain national data on chemical, biological and mechanical pest control in the major crops in agriculture and horticulture.

Target population

Crop protection methods in agriculture and horticulture. The survey provides data on the amount of pesticides used, the number of businesses and the area a method or product is used on, and the amount of biological control. The figures are broken down by application group, year, month, active substance, crop or crop group, and sector of agriculture and horticulture where possible.

Statistical unit

Agriculture and horticulture.

Year survey started



Irregular, with up to four years between survey years. Data are provided on 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Publication strategy

Provisional figures are available twelve months after the year under review. The definite figures are published a few months later. These figures are published in four StatLine tables and discussed in various Web Magazine articles.

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

The data are collected using a written questionnaire. A sample is drawn from the businesses in the Agricultural Census of the previous year.

Survey method

• Each business is surveyed for one crop, even if it produces more crops.
• Statistics Netherlands uses different questionnaire for each sector. Respondents are asked about the plant protection products used in the business throughout the year, including implementation by contracting firms. For a number of crops, several crops per year are observed.
• Each business is approached eight to twelve times throughout the year, depending on the sector. After two weeks, reminder letters are sent to businesses that have not responded.
• Approximately 55 crops are selected and divided into eight cultivation sectors. Over the years, as far as possible the same crops are chosen. Once a crop has been selected, that crop will thus be retained in subsequent survey years.
• The amount of active substance is determined from the regulation of the products as specified by the Board for the Authorisation of Plant protection products and Biocides (Ctgb).
• The growers report the application group, mostly the group of organisms to be destructed, in the survey themselves.


Agricultural and horticultural businesses as known from the Agricultural Census.

Sample size

Initially, approximately 13,000 businesses are approached. About 8,500 businesses remain after correction for those that do not grow the crop concerned. The results are based on a useful response rate of approximately 3000 companies.

Checking and correction methods

Observed and calculated doses are compared with guidelines for use. In cases of excess, an extra accuracy check is performed.


Raising to national figures is done using the number of businesses or the cultivated area (per agricultural area) in the Agricultural Census.

Quality of the results


The accuracy is limited because in practice a considerable variation in dosage (in kilograms of active substance per hectare) occurs.
Sequential comparability
• The surveyed crops vary slightly in each survey year and therefore the observation per sector also varies. Therefore, for each year the crops with a useful response are explicitly indicated.
• Definitions of pesticides (plant protection products, biocides) and the records of these pesticides vary over time and therefore the observation of the use also varies. The regulations are followed up where possible. The exclusive use of microbiological preparations and sulphur is published separately.

Quality strategy

• Respondents are informed in advance of the survey, to confirm that the crop is grown in the survey year and that the business still exists.
• Until 2000, observations were presented to respondents for verification.