As the spring 2023 planting season winds down, farmers are settling up for custom machine work that they either hired or performed for others. What is a fair amount to charge or to pay for such work?
Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University and other land-grant institutions regularly update their survey of what farmers charge or pay for agronomic services. These rates vary according to labor, fuel, geography, availability of services and other local factors.
Spring planting, tillage and other custom rate numbers for the following items may be helpful for farmers as they settle up accounts. These numbers are average prices; some prices may be higher or lower than a year ago.
Rates in different areas of Michigan may be higher or lower than the state average depending upon several factors. In Monroe County, factors influencing custom machine work can include: field size and shape, ease of access, amount of non-farm traffic to get to the field, machine size, width of roads or bridges, trash, weeds, trees or brush hindering work in the field, depth of field drainage tile, payment arrangements and other factors.
The rates below are from MSU, released in December 2022, and include the implement, power unit, operator and fuel. All rates are per acre unless otherwise noted.
• Planter (12 row conventional till), $19.90
• Drill soybeans (no till, 15-foot), $27.35
• Air seeder drill w/cart (52-foot), $28.65
• Chisel with front disk (16.3-foot), $22.72
• Boom sprayer (120-foot, self-propelled), $8.47
• Rotary mower/conditioner (12-foot), $12.56
• Round baler (5×6, 20-foot), $18.76
• Combine (30-foot platform), $39.78
• Fuel price: $5.38 per gallon
• Skilled labor rate: $29.99 per hour
• Unskilled labor rate: $20.24 per hour
• Interest rate: 4.375%
Ohio State University 2022 custom rates also includes:
• Lime application (not including lime), $8.50
• Strip tillage, $28.60
• Weed electrocution, $35.70
• Drill small grains (conventional tillage), $19.70
• Hay baling (dropped on ground), 85 cents per bale
• Brush mowing, $17
• Brush mowing, $73.60 per hour
• Crop scouting, $4.10
• Soil testing, $5.60
• Grid soil sampling, $8.20
• Power washing equipment: $48.80 per hour
Ned Birkey is an MSU Extension educator emeritus and a regular contributor to The Monroe News.