Monday, 6 October 2008: 2:45 PM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 371D
The diet of approximately three billion people worldwide is nutrient deficient. The type of cropping system employed by farmers may play an important role in providing consumers with more nutritionally dense food. For example, evidence of differences in nutritional value in organically grown crops versus conventionally grown crops is currently a subject of intense debate. Our objectives in this study were to test for grain mineral concentration in 35 winter wheat cultivars in paired organic and conventional systems, and to determine the influence of cultivar, soil characteristics and farming system on mineral concentration. Here we report results that show that the grain mineral concentration in organic wheat was higher for copper (Cu), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn) and lower in calcium (Ca), than the grain mineral concentration in conventional wheat. No difference was found between systems for iron (Fe) concentration. Cultivar was significant in determining mineral concentration for Ca, Cu, Mg, Mn and P. Soil mineral concentration was not responsible for grain mineral concentration, with the exception of P. The organic wheat farming systems had higher grain mineral concentrations of Cu, Mg, Mn, P and Zn than the conventional systems, possibly due in part to increased soil organic matter and pH in the organic systems. Growing specific cultivars capable of exploiting particular soil conditions and cropping systems may be necessary in order to optimize the nutritional value in modern cereal crops.