An annual survey of farmers, custom operators and managers in Iowa shows prices could decrease for custom strip-till services in 2024.

The Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey, conducted by Iowa State University, includes percentage changes by category of custom services in 2024 compared to 2023. The data shows the largest single percentage change for custom services is a 3.4% decrease in the cost of preharvest operations, followed by a 2.6% increase for harvesting and hauling. Bin and machinery rental is expected to increase 2.2% and complete custom farming services are expected to increase 1.6%. 

Harvesting forages is expected to decrease 0.7% and labor costs are expected to decrease 1.6%.

The survey also provides estimated ranges for various conservation tillages. For example, custom vertical tillage is expected to range between $12 and $30 per acre, based on 41 responses, with an average charge of $21.75 per acre.

2024 Iowa Custom Strip-Till Rates

Custom operations are frequently used in strip-till farming, given the expense of purchasing or custom building equipment for the practice. The range given, based on 15 responses to the 2024 survey, is $15 to $27 per acre, with an average of $21.00 per acre, down from the 2023 average of $24.35. Extra charges per acre for anhydrous fertilizer and no materials ranged from $2-16, based on 8 responses, with an average charge of $7.05. 

Rates for Planting, Fertilizer Application

The 2024 survey also included average rates for a variety of other custom services, including chopping cornstalks, planting, fertilizer application, manure spreading and tiling. 

Cornstalk chopping averages $13.80 per acre, down $1 from 2023, with individual respondents charging or paying anywhere from $8-20 per acre. The average cost for planting with fertilizer and insecticide attachments is $25.25 per acre, down $1.85 from 2023. The price drops to an average of $24.20 per acre without attachments and increases to an average of $27 per acre for planting with a high-speed planter.

Dry bulk fertilizer application costs an average of $7.25 per acre. Liquid spraying costs $7.65 per acre on average, while sidedressing is $12.00 per acre. Injecting anhydrous with a toolbar averages $15.10 per acre, while injecting without a toolbar costs $13.25 per acre on average. Costs for spreading lime range from $5-12 per ton, with the average charge being $7.25 per ton. All prices are without materials included.

Injection of 1,000 gallons of liquid manure averages $16.65 per acre, while applying 1,000 gallons of liquid manure with a drag line costs $13.50 per acre on average. Loading solid manure ranges from $100-125 per hour, averaging $115. 

For tiling work (excluding materials), tiling with a tile plow costs $1.05 per foot. 

Survey Demographics

130 people who received an email or mailed survey responded, and the survey includes 2,805 custom rates furnished by farmers, custom operators and farm managers.

Researchers caution that the survey results, which include ranges and other information for specific services, should only be used as a guide, and point out that actual custom rates can vary widely within the state of Iowa, let alone among various states.

Click here to see the 2024 survey

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