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How No-Till Can Help Folks Live Longer

For folks who want to grow even older, a recent Penn State University study demonstrates that eating foods processed from crops grown in no-tilled soils may play a key role in long-term human health.

The study demonstrates that intensive tillage may significantly reduce the availability of ergothioneine (ERGO), which is an important amino acid produced by certain types of soil-borne fungi and bacteria.

Known as a “longevity vitamin” due to its potent antioxidant properties, foods processed from crops grown in no-tilled soils should help us live longer. It’s because no-tilled fields contain more underground fungi and bacteria activity than tilled soils.

First in the World

The study is among the first to demonstrate how soil disturbance can directly impact a key human health dietary factor associated with a number of chronic aging diseases. As an example, this includes Parkinson’s and Alzheimer diseases, says Robert Beelam, a Penn State food scientist. 

This “longevity vitamin” is produced by fungi, which is the major reason why mushrooms are among the leading dietary sources of this amino acid. However, the study shows that ERGO produced by soil-borne fungi makes its way into growing plants, suggesting that no-till may offer long-term human health benefits.

Penn State soil scientist Sjoerd Duiker says, “This leads us to speculate that ag soils that receive minimal or no-tillage may have higher levels of fungi. Therefore, crops grown in these soils may have higher ERGO levels than crops grown with aggressive tillage.”

To study the impact of tillage on this…

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Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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