The IR-4 Project was established in 1963 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities 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. According to the USDA, the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 defines specialty crops as, “Fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Eligible plants must be cultivated or managed and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.”
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, cotton 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. IR-4 also supports the registration of minor or specialty uses on major 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 technology neutral and 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 unique 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.
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 2021 IR-4 Project Annual Report and 2021 Year-End Summary