Crops > Cost & Return > Budget & Record Summaries

Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa - 2020

File A1-20
Updated January, 2020

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Estimated annual Iowa production cost budgets for the following crops are presented in this file. These budget tables are presented in the accompanying "pdf" file that you can access by clicking here or on the icon above.

Conventional tillage

xls file Corn following corn

xls file
Corn following soybean

xls file
Corn silage following corn

xls file
Herbicide tolerant soybeans following corn (herbicide tolerant)

Low-till and Strip till

xls file Low-till corn following soybean

xls file Low-till drilled soybeans following corn

xls file Strip till corn following soybean

xls file Strip till herbicide tolerant soybean following corn

Hay & oats

xls file Alfalfa or alfalfa-grass Hay budget

xls file Alfalfa or alfalfa-grass hay with oat companion crop Budget

xls file Oat or other small grain budget

Maintaining grass pasture

xls file Improved grass pasture

xls file
Improved grass-legume pasture

Other decision tools

xls file Crop rotation summary

xls file
Breakeven worksheet for crops

download teaching activity

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 are representative of average costs for farms in Iowa. Very large or small farms may have lower or higher fixed costs per acre.

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 $14.25 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 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 alternative.

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. Crop insurance costs reflect revenue crop protection at an 80% coverage level for a typical farm in Iowa. Starting in 2020, the average cost of lime is adjusted to account for regional differences in lime application practices (ag lime quality, quantity, and frequency of application).

Machinery costs reflect both new and used equip­ment. The machine operations assumed are based on the 2000 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). The Estimated Machinery Costs table can be used to budget other tillage and harvesting systems.

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." Electronic 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.

Two low-till budgets, one for corn and one for soybean, 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 -- 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,