Suppose you want 40 acres of wheat no-till drilled. You don’t have a drill, but your neighbor does. What will he charge you? Will it be based on the true amount he needs to recover all his costs for ownership of the tractor and drill plus his labor, or will he just charge a rate that’s customary in the area because he’s doing it to help you?
Michael Langemeier, associate director of the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture, says one reason custom rates vary is because people do custom operations for various reasons. If someone is relying on making a living solely as a custom operator, they must charge a rate that will cover all ownership costs, he says.
According to the recently completed 2021 custom rates survey, the average for no-tilling small grains such as wheat in Indiana is $17.17 per acre. That’s based on 12 responses in a survey with 97 total participants. Langemeier coordinated the survey, with help from Extension educators. Data was collected during the winter of 2020-21.
You can have more confidence when there are more responses, Langemeier says. For planting operations, average custom rates varied little whether it was corn, soybeans or small grains, or whether it was no-till or conventional. The lowest average custom rate was $17 per acre for planting soybeans in 15-inch rows in conventional tillage and seeding small grains in conventionally tilled fields. The highest custom planting rate was $18.91 per acre for no-tilling corn. See the chart below.
Langemeier cautions that these rates should only be used as guidelines. More operations are highlighted in other articles. To see the full report for all operations, complete with all qualifying comments, visit 2021 Indiana Farm Custom Rates.