Crops > Machinery > Custom Operations

New Iowa farm custom rate survey available

AgDM Newsletter
March 2011

xls file

xls file

The 2011 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey followed the recent trend of small, but consistent increases in rates each year. Most operations showed increases of 3 to 5 percent over the average rates in the 2010 survey. The average rate for combining corn, the custom operation with the most responses, exceeded $30 per acre for the first time.

Fuel prices have soared this winter, causing many custom operators to increase their rates from last year. In the survey, the average price for diesel fuel in 2011 was assumed to be $2.75 per gallon, which was not far off in January, but is below current prices. As a rule of thumb, a $0.50 per gallon increase in the price of fuel will cause total costs for machinery operations to increase about 5 percent.

The 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.

Several new operations and services were included in the 2011 survey, including using seed shut-offs on planters, bagging silage, tedding and swathing hay, and renting a generator.

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 2011 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey is available at county extension offices, online as publication FM-1698, from the ISU Extension Online Store, or as Information File A3-10, Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey, on the Ag Decision Maker website.

Average Farm Custom Rates Reported for Iowa


William Edwards, retired economist. Questions?