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Serving: IL

Get a baseline on custom rates

Holly Spangler combine harvesting at sunset
CUSTOM FARMING: Looking at arranging custom farming on your operation? Check out the baseline prices on custom rates from 2019. University of Illinois will publish 2021 machinery cost estimates at the end of September.
U of I ag economists expect 2021 machinery cost estimates to be 8% to 10% higher than 2019’s.

Let’s say you don’t want to retire and rent out your farm, but you don’t want to do it all yourself either. Could custom farming work? And how do you set a rate? University of Illinois ag economists publish machinery cost estimates intended to represent the actual costs associated with individual farm field operations, which can provide a baseline for setting a custom rate to ensure that costs are covered.

Gary Schnitkey, ag economist at U of I, says they’ll publish 2021 machinery cost estimates by the end of September. And he expects 2021 costs to be 8% to 10% higher than 2019.

2019 numbers

Here’s a look at those 2019 numbers.

Tillage. Includes tractor overhead, implement overhead, fuel and lube and labor:

  • Chisel plow at $12.70 per acre
  • Disk ripper at $25.70 per acre
  • Vertical tillage, rolling basket at $11.70 per acre
  • Moldboard plow at $39.80 per acre
  • Mulch tiller at $21.40 per acre
  • Offset disk at $14.70 per acre
  • Strip tillage at $16.70 per acre
  • V-ripper (shanks only) at $22.50 per acre
  • Field cultivator at $9.90 per acre
  • Mulch finisher at $15.40 per acre
  • Tandem disk at $12.60 per acre

Harvest. Includes tractor overhead, platform overhead, fuel and lube, and labor:

  • Combining only for corn at $37.60 per acre
  • Combining only soybeans at $32.60 per acre
  • Grain cart for corn at $14.20 per acre
  • Grain cart for soybeans at $7.80 per acre
  • Grain hauling at $0.10 per bushel

Planting. Includes tractor overhead, implement overhead, fuel and lube, and labor:

  • Broadcast seeding at $8.90 per acre
  • Conventional planter at $14.40 per acre
  • Split-row planter for soybeans at $12.50 per acre
  • No-till planter at $17.20 per acre
  • Grain drill at $14.50 per acre
  • No-till drill at $25.80 per acre
  • Air-seeder at $16.80 per acre

Spraying. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider the following spraying and ammonia application total costs from 2019:

  • Self-propelled at $4.40 per acre
  • Pull-type at $3.90 per acre
  • Anhydrous ammonia at $16.50 per acre
  • Liquid fertilizer applicator at $23.50 per acre

Other costs

Also consider fuel and labor costs:

  • Fuel. Fuel costs are based on $2.50 per gallon for diesel fuel. Fuel costs will vary with each operation’s fuel use.
  • Labor. Labor costs are based on a $19 per hour.

Check out the entire list of cost estimates at Farmdoc:



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