Study reveals nutritional benefits of regenerative agriculture crops

The authors of the study, published in the PeerJ journal, collaborated with farmers using regenerative farming practices to conduct an experiment.

All the participating 10 farms, mostly in the Midwest and in the Eastern US, agreed to grow one acre of a test crop — peas, sorghum, corn or soybeans — for comparison with the same crop grown on a neighbouring farm using conventional agriculture.

The results showed that the crops from farms following soil-friendly practices for at least five years had a healthier nutritional profile than the same crops grown on neighbouring, conventional farms. The farms practicing regenerative agriculture had healthier soils, as measured by their organic matter, or carbon, content and by a standard test, and showed a boost in certain minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals that benefit human health.

The food grown under regenerative practices contained, on average, more magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc; more vitamins, including B1, B12, C, E and K; and more phytochemicals, compounds not typically tracked for food but that have been shown to reduce inflammation and boost human health. Crops grown in the regenerative farms were also lower in elements broadly detrimental to human health, including sodium, cadmium and nickel, compared with their conventionally grown neighbours.

“Across the board we found these regenerative practices imbue our crops with more anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants,”​ said lead author David Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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