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Corn+Soybean Digest

Theisse’s Thoughts


As would be expected with rapidly increasing fuel costs, average 2005 custom rates for most farm work has also risen, compared to 2004 custom rates. The average cost of diesel fuel in the Upper Midwest is approximately 50 percent higher than a year ago, and most custom rates for farm work in 2005 are 2-8% above the rates a year earlier, with an average increase of about 5%. The largest increases in custom rates in 2005 were for tillage operations, which tend to use more fuel than some other farm operations. In addition to higher fuel costs, increasing costs for new and used machinery is also a factor in the higher custom rates for 2005.

These results are based on the annual “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey” that is coordinated and analyzed by Iowa State University. The survey sampled 185 custom operators, farm managers, and ag lenders on what they expected 2005 custom farm rates to be for various farm operations in 2005. 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.

The complete 2005 “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey” is available on the following web site :

All listed custom rates in the Iowa Survey results include fuel and labor, unless listed as rental rates or otherwise specified. 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 2005, based on the “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey” :

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

  • Corn ----------- $81.00 per acre
  • Soybeans ------ $71.75 per acre
  • Small Grain --- $57.05 per acre

Tillage :

  • Moldboard Plow ---------- $12.15 per acre
  • Chisel Plow ---------------- $11.05 per acre
  • V-Ripper (deep tillage) --- $14.30 per acre
  • Field Cultivator ------------ $8.00 per acre
  • Tandem Disk --------------- $8.45 per acre
  • Row Cultivator ------------- $7.15 per acre
  • Chopping Cornstalks ------ $7.45 per acre

Planting :

  • Planter With Attachments ------- $12.15 per acre
  • Planter Without Attachments --- $11.05 per acre
  • No-Till Planter -------------------- $12.55 per acre
  • Soybean Drill ---------------------- $11.20 per acre
  • Grain Drill -------------------------- $10.15 per acre

Fertilizer and Chemical Application (materials not included) :

  • Bulk Fertilizer ----- $3.50 per acre ($1.40 per acre for the applicator only)
  • Liquid Fertilizer --- $4.90 per acre ($2.40 per acre for the applicator only)
  • Anhydrous --------- $6.90 per acre ($2.25 per acre for the applicator only)
  • Ground Spraying (Broadcast) --- $4.95 per acre
  • Ground Spraying (Banded) ------ $5.25 per acre

Harvesting Grain :

  • Corn Combine ------------------ $24.60 per acre
  • Soybean Combine -------------- $23.90 per acre
  • Small Grain Combine ---------- $22.50 per acre
  • Grain Cart (In Field) ----------- $4.60 per acre
  • Hauling Grain (On Farm) ------ $.05 per bushel
  • Grain Auger Use (On Farm) --- $.05 per bushel

Harvesting Forages :

  • Windrowing Hay --------------------- $9.90 per acre
  • Hay Baling (Small Square Bales) --- $.45 per bale
  • Hay Baling (Large Square Bales) --- $9.10 per bale
  • Hay Baling (Large Round Bales) --- $8.00 per bale
  • Silage Chopping ----------------------- $28.80 per hour per row
  • Haylage Chopping -------------------- $78.30 per hour (7 foot head)

Editors 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 [email protected].

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