Health Benefits of Conventional, Organic and No-till Whole Wheat

There is growing consumer demand for foods perceived as being safe, healthy and sustainable. Organic and no-till wheat are often perceived as safe and sustainable and are well-positioned to gain market share if nutritional or quality advantages can be identified. Considering the known effects of environmental conditions on grain yield and quality, we hypothesized that no-till and organic cropping systems alter the mineral content, dietary fiber, total antioxidants, phenolics, and glycemic index of wheat grain. Organic wheat has been obtained from replicated field studies in Pullman, WA and Bozeman, MT, whereas no-till wheat was obtained from long-term replicated field studies in Oregon. We have expanded our project in two respects not included in the original proposal: (1) we are evaluating organic soft white winter wheat, in addition to organic hard red spring wheat, and (2) we are evaluating quality characteristics of no-till wheat, in addition to the nutritional characteristics. The results for end-use quality comparisons between organic and conventional wheat are discussed in our previous BIOAg report on “Wheat Quality in Organic and Conventional Dryland Cropping Systems”.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 089
  • Project Status: Complete






Park, E.Y., E.P. Fuerst, P.R. Miller, S. Machado, I.C. Burke, and B.-K. Baik. 2011. Functional and nutritional characteristics of wheat grown in organic, no-till, and conventional cropping systems. Abstract and poster for 2011 meeting of American Association of Cereal Chemists, International.;Poster also presented at the 20th Anniversary of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture Natural Resources December 6, 2012.

E. P. Fuerst, E.Y. Park, C.F. Morris, S. Machado, P. . Miller, I.C. Burke, E. Wegner, and B.-K Baik 2011. End-Use Quality and Nutritional Aspects of Organic, No-till, and Conventional Dryland Wheat. Poster presented 11/11/2011 at the Washington Tilth ‘Dryland Organic Farming Conference’ in Yakima, WA. Poster also presented at the 20th Anniversary of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture Natural Resources December 6, 2012.

This research has been written in two draft manuscripts, one comparing organic vs. conventional and the other comparing no-till vs. conventional. They are part of Eun Young Park’s dissertation, tentative defense date December, 2013, with the intent that they will be published in Cereal Chemistry. Funding from BIOAg and Shepherd’s Grain will be acknowledged.

Additional Funds Leveraged

Shepherd’s Grain provided $6,000 in 2010 to support this project. The information gathered and results obtained on whole grain characteristics while conducting this project were essential for us to procure an international collaborative research project (Dr. Baik, $110,000) on whole grain wheat quality and processing for extended food uses and enhanced product quality with the Rural Development Administration-Korea. Following publication of these results, we will be in a good position to contribute to AFRI and OREI (Organic Research and Extension Initiative) proposals.


This research demonstrates that both organic and no-till cropping systems affect the physical grain characteristics and composition with no apparent negative influences on functional and end-product quality. Organic and no-till cropping systems tend to lower protein content of grain, which is desirable for SW wheat, but not for HR. Even with generally lower protein content of grain, HR wheat grown under organic and no-till cropping systems still possesses comparable bread baking quality to HR wheat grown under conventional systems. This could partially defray our concern on low protein content of organic HR wheat compared to conventionally grown wheat. Organic and no-till cropping systems had limited effects on nutritional characteristics of wheat grain, including mineral content, phenolic content and anti-oxidant capacity.