Hundreds of government officials, growers, agricultural researchers and extension personnel gathered recently to make decisions that will impact the quality and quantity of the fruits and vegetables on our tables and the ornamental plants that beautify our landscapes.
They were determining 2010-2011 research priorities for the Interregional Research Project 4 (IR-4), an organization launched more than four decades ago by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. IR-4 is responsible for conducting residue studies and investigating the safety and effectiveness of new, reduced-risk herbicides, insecticides and fungicides that can help growers of specialty crops successfully manage pests and improve yields.
“IR-4 not only benefits crop producers, but also our nation’s consumers,” said Lee Van Wychen, science policy director for the Weed Science Society of America. “The public has a vested interest in environmental protection, food safety and affordability, and IR-4 addresses all three.”
Funding for IR-4 comes from the USDA, state agricultural experiment stations and private industry. “Studies show that IR-4 is a sound investment that is paying enormous returns,” said Jerry Baron, executive director of the IR-4 Project.
“To date, IR-4 has been instrumental in the approval of more than 20,000 chemical and biological uses to protect specialty crops,” Van Wychen said. “As a result, farmers have a broader and more effective range of choices for managing weeds and other pests.”
“Registering a pesticide can be a long, expensive and complicated process,” explained Van Wychen. “IR-4 research provides required information that allows many herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to be registered for use on specialty crops.”
IR-4 is headquartered at Rutgers University, with laboratories and field research sites in 36 states and Puerto Rico. For more information on the IR-4 Project, visit the organization’s website at www.IR4.rutgers.edu , and to learn more about Weed Science of America, visit www.wssa.net .