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Corn+Soybean Digest

2010 Custom Rates Study

Custom rates for most common farm work are basically steady for 2010, compared to 2009 rates. Most custom rates for farm work in 2010 are within 1-2% of the rates from a year earlier, which is statistically no difference; however, it should be noted that fuel prices have risen somewhat since the custom rate survey was completed a few months ago.

These results are based on the annual Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey that is coordinated and analyzed by Iowa State University. The survey sampled approximately 200 custom operators, farm managers and ag lenders on what they expected 2010 custom farm rates to be for various farm operations. The survey summary lists the average custom rate and the range for various tillage, planting, fertilizer and chemical application, grain harvesting and forage harvesting functions on the farm. The survey also includes many miscellaneous faming practices, lists average machine rental rates for some equipment and includes a formula for estimating average machinery rental rates. The survey also lists average custom farming rates for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Over the years, the average custom rates for farm operations in southern and western Minnesota have been very close to the average Iowa custom rates. The complete 2010 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey is available for download as a PDF.

All listed custom rates in the Iowa survey results include fuel and labor, unless listed as rental rates or otherwise specified. The average price for diesel fuel assumed for the quoted custom rates was $2.25/gal. These average rates are only meant to be a guide for custom rates, as actual custom rates charged may vary depending on continued increase in fuel costs, availability of custom operators, timeliness, field size, etc. Following are the average custom rates for some common farming practices for 2010, based on the Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey:

Custom Farming Rates:
(Includes tillage, planting and harvesting costs)

  • Corn – $102.40/acre (range = $60-137)
  • Soybeans – $91.05/acre (range = $50-120)
  • Small grain – $75.50/acre (range = $40-96.35)

Tillage and Spraying:

  • Moldboard plow – $14.50/acre
  • Chisel plow – $13.30/acre
  • V-ripper (deep tillage) – $17/acre
  • Field cultivator – $10.85/acre
  • Tandem disk – $11.60/acre
  • Chopping cornstalks – $9.95/acre
  • Crop spraying – $6.50/acre


  • Planter with attachments – $14.70/acre
  • Planter without attachments – $14.20/acre
  • No-till planter – $15.70/acre
  • Soybean drill – $14.25/acre
  • Grain drill – $13/acre

Harvesting Grain:

  • Corn combine – $29.90/acre ($38.55/acre with grain cart and truck; $32.70/acre with chopper head)
  • Soybean combine – $28.70/acre ($35.90/acre with grain cart and truck)
  • Small grain combine – $27.20/acre
  • Grain cart (in field) – $5.95/acre
  • Hauling grain (on farm) – 6¢/bu.
  • Grain auger use (on farm) 6.5¢/bu.

Harvesting Forages:

  • Windrowing hay – $12.15/acre
  • Hay baling (small square bales) – 50¢/bale
  • Hay baling (large square bales) – $9.80/bale
  • Hay baling (large round bales) – $9.80/bale
  • Corn stalk Baling (large bales) – $11.40/bale
  • Silage chopping – $30.40/hour/row

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at

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