IR-4 Program Helps Get Pesticides Registered for Specialty Crops

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Peter Dittmar. Photo courtesy of UF IFAS.

Peter Dittmar, assistant professor and Extension specialist at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says the specialty crop industry has difficulties with pesticide registration.

In order to solve this problem, the IR-4 program was created to help Florida growers have more options. The program is a cooperation between land grant universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to get pesticides for weed and pest management registered for use in specialty crops.

Dittmar says pesticides are not easily registered for specialty crops because of the smaller market share, so IR-4 was created to help companies put their money into the industry.

The IR-4 field lab is located in Citra, Florida, at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit. Here, crops are planted and pesticide tests are performed to gather the data that supports the need for registration of the pesticides.

After the crop is harvested, the researchers at the field lab ship it to another lab for analysis, Dittmar says. The analysis is to determine how much residue of the pesticide is left on the crop.

Researchers at the field lab also have a focus on crop tolerance and efficacy. Dittmar says it is important to show the pesticide is safe to use on the crop, as well as to prove the effectiveness of the chemical to manage weeds or pests.

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