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Find 2023 custom rates for applying fertilizer, spraying

Purdue survey results offer a place to start when figuring custom rates for certain crop operations.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

May 2, 2023

2 Min Read
sprayer driving through young cornfield
DETERMINE CUSTOM CHARGE: How much are people charging on average to spray an acre of corn? Find a starting point in the 2023 Purdue custom rates survey. Tom J. Bechman

If your neighbor charges more for a custom farming operation, don’t be alarmed. It’s a trend playing out in most farming areas. Higher fuel and repair costs are forcing people to analyze rates closely.

Michael Langemeier, Purdue Extension ag economist, maintains custom rate information in Indiana. Rates were just updated for 2023, based on information from 81 voluntary participants who responded to a survey.

“Many times, typical custom rates in an area don’t cover all ownership costs,” Langemeier says. He suspects that is especially true now if someone hasn’t upped rates to account for higher fuel and repair costs.

Custom rate example

See the complete 2023 custom rate survey results online. Here are comments related to fertilizing and spraying tasks:

Most responses. The custom rate for spraying with a self-propelled sprayer, at just over $8 an acre for ’23, is based on 37 responses. If there are more than 30 responses, Langemeier calculates the variation in range of answers. These variations are included in the complete tables online. For spraying, while the average is $8.01 per acre, the range is from $6.02 to $10 per acre.

Few responses. Where there are fewer than five responses, the ag economist advises caution using the data. Note that for spreading manure, there are seven responses and a charge of just over $15 per acre. But in 2021, there were only three responses, and the average was $40 per acre. “The average just isn’t as reliable when you have very few responses,” Langemeier says.

Related:Purdue releases 2023 custom rates for planting, tillage

table of Indiana custom farming rates for 2023

Higher rates. Compared to 2017 rates, today’s rates tend to be 20% to 25% higher. However, the amount of increase varies by task. Comparing to ’21 and ’17 rates, a large portion of the increase happened since ’21 for some tasks, but not all.

For example, for spraying liquid fertilizer, like 28% nitrogen for wheat or corn, the average rates per acre were $6.48, $7.76 and $8.25 for 2017, 2021 and 2023, respectively. That’s a 27% increase since ’17, but about 75% of that increase occurred from ’17 to ’21.

However, consider spreading phosphate or potash. The rates for ’17, ’21 and ’23, respectively, were $5.90, $6.32 and $8.06 per acre. That’s a 37% increase since ’17, and a 27% increase just since ’21. In this case, most of the increase happened over the past two years.

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About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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