Updated January, 2024
File A1-20

Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa - 2024

The estimated costs of corn, corn silage, soybean, alfalfa, and pasture maintenance in this report are based on data from several sources. They include the annual Iowa Farm Business Association record summaries, production and costs data from the Departments of Economics, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and Agronomy at Iowa State University, and a survey of selected agricultural cooperatives and other input suppliers around the state.

These cost estimates intend to represent average costs for farms in Iowa. Very large or small farms may have lower or higher fixed costs per acre. Starting in 2023, projected land costs are based on the previous year’s results in the Cash Rental Rates for Iowa Survey, and a poll of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm Management team and Farm Financial Associates.

Due to differences in soil potentials, quantity of inputs used and other factors, production costs will vary from farm to farm. Price shifts for inputs can change production costs in both the short and long run. The data reflect average cost of purchased inputs and a return to land and labor resources, but do not provide a margin for profit or a return to management. They reflect production costs only, and do not include costs of storage.

Labor has been treated as a fixed cost because most labor on Iowa farms is supplied by the operator, family or permanent hired labor. However, when deciding among alternative crops, labor should be considered a variable cost. The wage rate used here is $19.00 per hour. The hours assumed per crop are presented in the budgets. The hours per crop acre include not only the field work but also time for maintenance, travel and other activities related to crop production. The land charge is based on a projected cash rent equivalent. Owned land may require a greater or lesser cash outlay.

In the short run, cash income must be sufficient to pay cash costs, including seed, fertilizer, chemicals, insurance, cash rent and hired labor, as well as machinery fuel and repairs and interest on operating capital. In the long run, income should be sufficient to pay all costs of production for resources to be used in their most profitable purpose.

Starting in 2019, reference yields for corn and soybean budgets reflect 30-year trend yields and are updated annually. Corn yields reflect rotation effects. Fertilizer rates have been adjusted to reflect current data on removal and application rates. Starting in 2021, nitrogen rates on corn budgets reflect recommendations from the Corn Nitrogen Calculator. For 2023, the projected corn to nitrogen price ratio is 8.25. Crop insurance costs reflect revenue crop protection at 80% coverage for a typical farm in Central Iowa.

Machinery costs reflect both new and used equipment. The machine operations assumed are based on the 2016 Crop Production Practices Survey conducted by the Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication Estimating the Field Capacity of Farm Machines (AgDM File A3-24). In 2024, machinery costs were adjusted to reflect the 23% increase between 2020 and 2022 reported by USDA Economic Research Service, in the budget line "Capital recovery of machinery and equipment" for corn production in the Heartland Region.

Estimates represent typical costs and are only intended to be guidelines. Actual costs will vary considerably and can be entered in the column for "Your Estimates." Decision tool spreadsheets for developing crop production budgets are available on the Ag Decision Maker website.

Budgets for alfalfa hay establishment with an oat companion crop and by direct seeding are included in this publication. Annual production costs for established alfalfa or alfalfa-grass hay as well as a budget for maintaining grass pastures are included as well. The APH-90 insurance policy for oats was discontinued in 2022 and Yield Protection was offered for the first time in 2023.

Two low-till budgets, one for corn and one for soybeans, are included. The major differences between the low-till and conventional budgets are the preharvest machinery, labor, herbicide, and seeding costs. The soybean budgets are for herbicide tolerant varieties. A strip-till budget is also included.


Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2024
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2023
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2022
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2021
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2020
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2019
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2018
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2017
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2016
Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa -- 2015
View past publications of the Estimated Costs of Production -- 2000-2014.


Alejandro Plastina, extension economist, 515-294-6160, plastina@iastate.edu