Crop protection product sales fell sharply in 2005 according to figures released this week by the Crop Protection Association.

Farmers bought 14% less chemical in cash terms and 18% when measured by active ingredient. The net value of products sold fell by almost £54m to £344m compared with almost £400m in 2004.

Sales took a dip from 2004 due to a successful autumn drilling campaign, which allowed herbicide products to work well. A drop in cereal area of 4% also contributed to the reduction in use.

Spring sales were also low because of the relatively low infestation of blight pressure in potatoes and less disease pressure generally.

However, it was not all bad news for herbicide sellers.  There was an increase in industrial and forestry fungicide use, due to a long spraying season.