Crops > Machinery > Custom Operations

New Iowa farm custom rate survey available

AgDM Newsletter
April 2009


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The 2009 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey followed the recent trend of small, but consistent annual increases in rates. Most tillage operations showed increases of three to five percent over the average rates in the 2008 survey, while harvesting rates were up slightly more than that. Fuel prices soared last summer, causing many custom operators to add an extra charge to their normal rates. While fuel prices have declined since then, the high cost of new equipment and repairs has contributed to higher overall machinery costs.

tableThe values reported on the survey are simply the average of all the responses received for each category. The range of the highest and lowest responses received is also reported. These values are intended only as a guide. There are many reasons why the rate charged in a particular situation should be above or below the average. These include the timeliness with which operations are performed, quality and special features of the machine, operator skill, size and shape of fields, number of acres contracted, and the condition of the crop for harvesting. The availability of custom operators in a given area will also affect rates.

A total of 255 people responded to this year’s survey, 38 percent more than last year. Of this group, 28 percent indicated that they performed custom work, 17 percent indicated that they hired work done, and 55 percent indicated that they did both. Several new operations and services were included in the 2009 survey, including applying liquid manure with a drag line, welding machinery, and using a scale to weigh grain trucks.

The Ag Decision Maker offers a Decision Tool to help custom operators and other farmers estimate their own costs for specific machinery operations. The Machinery Cost Calculator (file A3-29) can be found under Crops, then Machinery in the Ag Decision Maker table of contents.

The 2009 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey is available at county Extension offices or online as publication FM-1698 from the Extension online store, or as Information File A3-10, Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey, on the Ag Decision Maker website.


William Edwards, retired economist. Questions?