Compiled from IR-4 personnel and NCSU CALS News (July 26, 2019)
After more than 55 years at Rutgers University, the IR-4 Program will be moving its headquarters to NC State University over the next two years. A recent agreement between IR-4 and NCSU became effective on October 1, 2019, allowing for the first few employees to relocate to Raleigh. All equipment, files and personnel are scheduled to be in place by September 30, 2021, when the lease on the current facility in Princeton, NJ expires.
The IR-4 Program is a unique partnership between the federal government, the ag chemical industry, the land grant universities, growers and grower groups that conducts research trials to generate supporting data for pest management tools in specialty crops. The program has been highly successful since its inception in 1963. The program conducts research in specialty food crops and ornamental crops, with a strong emphasis on IPM practices, reduced risk products and biological and organic pesticides, along with conventional chemistries.
On July 10 the IR-4 Project Management Committee (PMC) considered a memorandum of agreement drafted by the NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). That proposed agreement presented an opportunity for IR-4 headquarters to relocate its operations from its long-term host institution, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station/Rutgers University, to NC State. After significant discussion, the PMC unanimously agreed to advance the proposal to Rutgers legal counsel for concurrence.
The PMC based its decision on the 10-year commitment by NC State to host IR-4 headquarters as well as the assurances of the college’s leadership on the many ways that IR-4 fits into CALS’ strategic direction. While New Jersey Agricultural Experimental Station continues to value the IR-4 Project, Rutgers could not continue to make a long-term commitment to serve as the host institution.
Two CALS administrators — Richard Bonanno, associate dean for extension, and Steve Lommel, associate dean for research – said they are enthusiastic about having the IR-4 headquarters at NC State.
“As a state with over 90 commodity groups, specialty crops are very important here, and we have many faculty members working on all aspects of specialty crop production,” Lommel said. “Having IR-4 headquarters at NC State is a natural fit and will be a win for North Carolina agriculture, the university and the IR-4 Project.”
Bonanno noted that “many pest management companies also call North Carolina home, thus decreasing travel time and expense for the national headquarters’ staff. In addition, the IR-4 expertise will be invaluable to NC State University’s new certificate program in regulatory science.”
Dr. Jerry Baron is the Executive Director of IR-4. When asked about the move, Baron stated “This is truly a win-win-win for IR-4, NC State and the specialty crop community. There is a high level of excitement by many as it provides IR-4 a stable future in an institution that greatly values specialty crop agriculture”.
The IR-4 Project’s funding is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service and Foreign Agriculture Service with significant direct and in-kind funds from members of the land-grant university system, specialty crop commodity associations and the crop protection industry.
Field research farms, analytical laboratories and coordination offices are located in over 20 states to facilitate national registrations of needed chemical and bio-based pesticides. Since IR-4 was established in 1963, its national headquarters has been hosted by Rutgers, which will continue to participate in the program by hosting IR-4 research at its two university research farms in New Jersey.