Penn State Research Links Tillage Practices with Human Health

A study by Penn State University is one of the first to link soil disturbance with negative human health effects. Researchers found that soil tillage may reduce the availability in crops of ergothioneine (ERGO), an amino acid produced by certain types of soil-borne fungi and bacteria that is known as a “longevity vitamin” due to its potent antioxidant properties. “Research suggests that a lack of ergothioneine in the diet may result in increased incidences of chronic diseases of aging, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science. This research found that ERGO concentrations in grain crops declined as tillage intensity increased.