About IR-4

Rows of squash plants
Cucumber and summer squash. Photo courtesy of Peter Dittmar, University of Florida.

The IR-4 Project was established in 1963 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that specialty crop farmers have legal access to safe and effective crop protection products.

Specialty crops include many of the fruits and vegetables recommended for a healthy diet, as well as the flowers, trees and shrubs that enhance our environment. Consumers demand high-quality food and plants, which makes managing the insects and diseases that damage specialty crops essential for both the agriculture community, as well as for public health.

What does the IR-4 Project Do?

Pests do not discriminate between major crops and specialty crops. While the crop protection industry focuses its research on major crops, such as corn and soybeans, growers of specialty crops are often left with fewer tools for effectively and safely managing pests. IR-4 conducts required research to meet this important need.

IR-4 works directly with crop growers, registrants of crop protection products and other members of the specialty crop community to develop data required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the registration of pest management tools for specialty crops.

Without IR-4’s work, there would be an increased risk of crop losses from pest damage, resulting in higher costs and decreased availability for consumers.

The IR-4 Project is committed to meeting the changing needs of specialty crop growers. Through advisory boards, workshops and strategic planning, new programs and initiatives have been added to assist specialty crop growers with their pest management needs.

IR-4 research takes place at many land grant universities and USDA Agriculture Research Service facilities across the country. Regional field offices and state liaisons also work with local growers to identify safe and effective solutions for pest management.

Important Downloads

History of the IR-4 Project: The IR-4 Project Over 50 Years of Sustained Success (2016)

Download the IR-4 Project Overview

View the 2020 IR-4 Project Annual Report and 2020 Year-End Summary

IR-4 by the Numbers

Hover over or tap the below numbers to learn more about our impact and reach.

75,000+*

Registrations of pest management technologies

95,261*

Jobs supported

$9.4 Billion*

Annual contribution to GDP

*According to a 2017 report conducted by Michigan State University.