How Should You Price Custom No-Till Work?

While a number of land-grant universities turn out a yearly survey on what farmers are paying and charging for various kinds of custom work, one of the best ones is done by Iowa State University agricultural economists.

In determining 2013 custom rates, completed surveys were obtained from 249 Iowa farmers, custom operators and farm managers. Some 26% of these respondents do some custom work, while 14% hire work done and 60% do both.

Most operations showed a 3% to 5% increase over the average rates charged in the 2012 Iowa survey says ag economist William Edwards.

Shown below are the 2013 average per acre custom rates being charged in Iowa that relate to no-till and strip-till. All rates include fuel, repairs, depreciation interest, labor and all other machinery costs for tractors, self-propelled units and the implements.

Besides the average rates, the range of the highest and lowest per-acre charges are also reported in the detailed custom-rate survey for nearly 180 different operations. As an example, the average charge for planting no-till corn is $18.45 per acre, with a range from $13.00 per acre on the low end to $31.00 per acre on the high end.

For the first time, vertical tillage, providing a seed tender and combining soybeans with a draper header were included in the survey.

These rates only serve as a guideline for what you should charge or pay for various no-till or strip-till work, such as helping a neighboring farmer give no-till or strip-till a try on…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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