A compilation of more than 2,600 Iowa custom farming rates reports no-till planting costs just over $27 per acre on average in 2023, an almost $4 per acre increase compared to last year.

Iowa State Extension calculated 2023 average custom rates from results of 94 survey responses and 2,621 custom rates provided by Iowa farmers, custom operators and farm managers. According to the results, 20% of the survey respondents perform custom work, 14% hire work done, 59% indicated doing both, 6% indicated doing neither, and 1% did not indicate whether they perform or hire custom work. 

Planting with a no-till planter costs $27.10 per acre on average, with a median charge of $25 per acre. The 40 farmers who pay for no-till planting pay anywhere from $12.75 to $42.50 per acre. In 2022, farmers surveyed by Iowa State Extension paid an average of $23.25 for the same service.

In 2023, no-tilling using a planter with splitters costs, on average, slightly less at $26.80 per acre. The median charge with splitters is $25.30 with a range of $13-35 per acre. Iowa State Extension reports an average extra charge of $2.90 per acre for seed shut-offs and an additional $2.80 per acre on average for variable rate seeding. Using GPS for analytics costs an extra $3 per acre on average.

No-till drilling soybeans costs $23.50 per acre on average in 2023, according to the survey. The median charge is $22, and reported prices per acre ranged from $13 to $27.50. Drilling small grains averaged $17.70 per acre with a median price of $18.50 and a range of $10-20. 

As for cover crops, drilling covers ranges from $10-30 per acre, with the average cost per acre coming out to $20.40. Aerial seeding of cover crops costs less with farmers reporting paying anywhere from $11 to $18 per acre for a $14.65 average price per acre.

The survey reports strip-till costs an average of $24.35 per acre with a range of $15-35. Vertical tillage costs $22.05 on average but ranges from $12-35 per acre.

Overall, pre-harvest operations as a whole increased in cost by 15.1% from 2022 to 2023. Harvesting and hauling increased by 20.2% compared to 2022, and complete custom farming went up 10.6%.

All rates include fuel and labor, unless otherwise noted. See the full results of the survey here.

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