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New Mexico State University

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NMSU project at Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center passes audit

Making food safe is the goal for Cary C.S. Hamilton and his staff. Hamilton is the field research director for the Inter-Regional Research Project No. 4 at New Mexico State University’s Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center, where approximately 12 field trials are conducted every year.

Man sprays a field of sunflowers
Cary C.S. Hamilton applies insecticide to sunflowers for a trial for the IR-4 Project at New Mexico State University’s Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center. The project helps provide effective pest control options for New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers. (Courtesy photo)

The trials follow federally mandated guidelines and provide pesticide residue data required for registering pest control chemicals for use in food crops and develop research data to support new Environmental Protection Agency tolerances and labeled product uses.

“By serving as a bridge for federal product registration, the IR-4 Project helps provide effective pest control options for New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers, while ensuring safe and healthful fruits, nuts and vegetables for consumers,” Hamilton said.

Recently, the NMSU IR-4 Project lab, which is part of NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, was audited by the EPA for good laboratory practices, and was informed it passed a three-day audit. Typically, the EPA audits each facility in the country every three to five years.

Hamilton said he was pleased to receive the news that allows the research and trials at Leyendecker to continue.

“We are always looking at new chemistries, and of course safer, greener more effective products for our growers and farms to use,” he said.

Some of the crops grown at Leyendecker include chile, pecans and onions, which are vital crops for New Mexico that account for half of the farm sales in the state according to Hamilton.

“We want to focus on what growers are doing here in New Mexico,” he said. “We want to put more tools in their tool box. That’s one of the big factors we try to incorporate into the program.”

Hamilton, who has been at Leyendecker for three years, said one of the biggest challenges for the project is managing the crops.

“When it comes to trials, you don’t get a second chance,” he said. “There’s a lot of variables you have to take into consideration. We need to try and grow a trial as close to it being commercial as possible in New Mexico.”

The IR-4 Project was established in 1963 by the USDA and land-grant universities. The project’s headquarters is located at Rutgers University. The NMSU IR-4 Project center is the largest in the western region, one of 11 research centers, and the lone research center in the country with three cropping regions.

For more information on NMSU’s Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center visit http://leyendeckersc.nmsu.edu/index.html.