What We Do

Since being established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1963, the IR-4 Project has been the primary entity in the United States to facilitate registrations of conventional pesticides and biopesticides on specialty food crops (fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices) and non-food Environmental Horticulture crops.

picture of 2 men taking picture of a crop in the field
picture of apples
Closeup of annual geranium with double flowers

Many food crops we consume, e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and spices as well as non-food crops such as landscape plants and flowers are considered specialty crops. Specialty crops make up about 40% ($83.1 billion) of the total value of all crop production ($212.4 billion) in the US.

The pests that damage crops do not discriminate between major crops (corn, soybean, cotton, wheat/small grains, etc.) and specialty crops.

Crop protection technology is often needed to prevent significant damage to crop quality and yield.

The agrochemical industry often lacks the financial incentives to expand registration for their products to specialty crops.

The same situation exists for minor uses on major crops. The lack of crop protection products for specialty crops and minor uses on major crops is referred to as the “Minor Use Problem”. IR-4 conducts the required research to fill this gap.

From a humble beginning in 1963 with only two staff members and a $25,000 budget to now employing a staff of 125 full time equivalent members and a budget of over $36 million ($18.9 million direct support and $18 million indirect/in-kind support), the IR-4 Project has made a major impact on U.S. agriculture.


The IR-4 Project works closely with federal government agencies, land-grant institutions and other organizations in the specialty crop industry to help crop growers with their pest management needs. View our Participants in the Process page for more information.