Nebraska Farm Custom Rates

A survey of agricultural custom operators is conducted in Nebraska every two years. A total of 227 survey responses were received in 2018 with information reflecting the current rates charged by custom operators for machine hire services and other work they provide for neighboring farms and ranches or as part of a business enterprise that covers a broader area. Survey participants identified by Nebraska Extension personnel, or in some cases, self-identified custom operators, received a paper survey or a link to the custom rates survey online.

Actual rates paid for custom services may vary from those listed in these survey results due to differences in the operators responding and those providing services across the state. This report provides a summary of state averages for specific custom operations in the tables below. More detailed information covering results of the custom rates survey by Nebraska Agricultural Statistical Districts is provided in two parts. Part I of the survey focused on spring and summer farm and ranch operations such as planting, tillage, and baling hay. Part II of the custom rates survey included questions about fall operations such as harvesting and hauling as well as miscellaneous custom work activities on the farm.

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Glennis McClure
Extension Educator
Farm and Ranch Management Analytics

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State Averages

Detailed custom rate information from survey responses included in Part I and II are grouped by Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Districts as shown on the map below (Figure 1). Due in part to the state’s diversity in agriculture, rates for similar operations can vary greatly from one area of the state to another. Custom rates reported include charges for use of necessary equipment, fuel, labor, and supplies such as baling wire or twine provided by the custom operator. Seed, fertilizer, and chemical costs are not included unless specified per operation. The information presented in this publication should be used only as a guide when figuring what to charge or pay for custom operations.

Map of Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Districts
Figure1. Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Districts

The Number Reporting is the number of usable responses received for a specific operation. The results from operations with more responses are considered to be more reliable than those with fewer responses. Results are not reported if fewer than three usable responses were reported for an operation.

The Average Rate for a specific operation provides an estimate of the prevailing charge for an operation. The reliability for this figure improves as the number of responses increase for a particular operation. The size of the range should also be viewed when considering the average, as the range of answers in some cases may be wide.

The Most Common Rate (Mode) is the rate reported more often than any other for that practice. The Average Rate and the Mode are usually similar. The results do not include a mode figure when any value fails to be reported more than once or when two or more values are reported the same number of times.

The Range shows the minimum and maximum amounts reported. These values may be indicative of different conditions under which the work was performed. The range also may reflect the fact that some rates include travel to and from the field while others do not.

Costs to Consider in Establishing Custom Rates
Be aware that average custom rates reported may not cover all of an operator’s costs. Rates change from year to year due to expense changes and the availability of custom operators. The rates reported in the publication were the prevailing rates in the spring of 2018. In determining the rates beyond 2018, custom operators and farm owners should consider their cost of machinery, labor, and fuel.

The rates provided in this report do not necessarily measure the full economic cost of performing the work specified. Some custom operators may only charge for fuel and labor. Other operators may charge for all costs, including depreciation on equipment, personal property taxes, a charge for risk, and a return to management. Field conditions such as size of area, terrain, and location will vary, which could partially account for the range in the rates charged.

Calculating Cost Associated with Fuel Price Changes
The following is an example showing how custom rates may be adjusted as fuel prices change. Farm price for diesel increases $0.50 from $2.10 to $2.60 per gallon. Consumption rate of the machine operation is 0.80 gallons per acre. Cost increase due to the higher fuel prices would be $0.50 X 0.80 = $0.40 per acre. This additional cost would be added to the custom rate quoted in the 2018 results.

Calculating Machine Costs to Utilize in Setting Custom Rates
Variability in the rates reported across the statewide survey suggest that calculating machine costs based on ownership and operating expenses provide value when determining custom rates. Certain custom rates reported in Nebraska fully account for covering operating and ownership costs of machinery and equipment. If sufficient custom rates information does not exist in a particular district or if an operator has upgraded equipment, then calculating an updated custom rate may be necessary. Those that provide custom services on a commercial scale should account for machinery, labor, and other related expenses that appropriately produces returns at a larger scale.

LAND TILLAGE OPERATIONSAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Disk Harrowing, Primary (heavy), rate per acre 14.43 15.00 8-25 69
Disk Harrowing, Finishing (light), rate per acre 13.71 15.00 10-19 51
Chisel Plow, rate per acre 14.45 18.00 8-25 11
Deep Chisel, rate per acre 18.77 18.00 11-30 15
Subsoil or Rip, rate per acre 21.08 25.00 12-30 37
Field Cultivator, rate per acre 13.61 15.00 8-22 49
Vertical or Turbo Tillage, rate per acre 15.40 15.00 12-25 21
Combination Tillage Operations, Finishing, rate per acre 13.88 15.00 8-20 15
Strip Tilling, rate per acre 18.73 20.00 12-25 20
Stalk Shredder PTO Driven, rate per acre 12.70 10.00 10-20 10
PLANTING AND POST PLANTING OPERATIONSAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
- Small Grains, conventional drill, rate per acre 14.40 15.00 9-18 20
- Small Grains, no-till drill, rate per acre 17.74 18.00 12-28 59
- Soybeans, conventional drill, rate per acre 16.92 20.00 14-20 12
- Soybeans, no-till drill, rate per acre 18.02 18.00 12-28 49
- No coulters, with band applicator, rate per acre 19.59 20.00 12-45 49
- No coulters, without band applicator, rate per acre 18.35 15.00 12-40 36
- Coulters, with band applicator, rate per acre 19.70 20.00 13-30 39
- Coulters, without band applicator, rate per acre 18.24 20.00 10-25 34
- Ridge planting, with band applicator, rate per acre 21.12 20.00 10-38 33
- Ridge planting, without band applicator, rate per acre 18.33 18.00 12-28 23
- Dry Edible Beans, rate per acre 22.61 22.00 16-38 9
- Sugarbeets, rate per acre 22.38 24.00 15-30 8
Seeding Grass Seed, rate per acre 18.92 20.00 12-29 13
Seeding Legumes, rate per acre 18.00 15.00 15-24 19
Seeding CRP Ground, rate per acre 19.62 15.00 15-31 13
Cultivation Tillage, conventional, rate per acre 13.25 12.00 10-18 12
Cultivation Tillage, handling residue, rate per acre 12.50 15.00 7-18 20
Cultivation Tillage, hill or ditch, rate per acre 11.21 15.00 7-18 14
HAYING AND BALINGAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Mowing, rate per acre 14.28 10.00 10-20 16
Raking, rate per acre 5.16 5.00 1.50-12 34
Swathing with Crushing/Crimping, rate per hour 117.92 110.00 70-170 13
Swathing with Crushing/Crimping, rate per acre 15.10 15.00 10-20 50
Shredding Cornstalks, rate per acre 16.20 15.00 10-25 10
Raking Cornstalks, rate per acre 8.09 10.00 2-16 11
- Small Square Bales with Twine Tie, rate per bale 1.16 1.00 0.40-3.50 19
- Small Square Bales With Wire Tie, rate per bale 1.12 0.75 0.40-3.50 10
- Large Square Bales, rate per bale 15.00 20.00 8-20 7
- Large Round Bales Without Net Wrap, rate per bale 13.56 14.00 8-17 33
- Large Round Bales With Net Wrap, rate per bale 14.13 15.00 10-24 48
- Cornstalks With Large Round Baler, rate per bale 15.63 15.00 11-21 23
SMALL GRAIN HARVESTAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Windrowing Grain Crops, rate per acre 16.67 12.00 10.50-30 12
Combining Small Grains, flat charge, rate per acre 31.68 30.00 22-45 36
Hauling Small Grain to Local Storage, cents per bushel 0.14 0.10 0.07-0.26 23
APPLICATION OF FERTILIZERAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Dry Fertilizer Solid Broadcast, rate per acre 6.43 5.00 3.50-10 26
Dry Fertilizer Variable Rate, rate per acre 7.97 6.50 6-10 19
Liquid Fertilizer Solid Application, rate per acre 8.25 7.00 5-15 21
Liquid Fertilizer Variable Rate, rate per acre 9.67 10.00 4.75-16 18
Anhydrous Ammonia, conventional knife, rate per acre 13.30 16.00 5-20 10
Anhydrous Ammonia, knife with coulters, rate per acre 15.18 15.00 9-25 40
INSECT, DISEASE, AND WEED CONTROLAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Spraying Weed Control, boom, rate per acre 6.84 7.00 4.75-10 55
Spraying Weed Control, recirculation, rate per acre 7.23 8.00 5.50-10 13
Crop Spraying by Surface Vehicle, rate per acre 6.94 7.00 4.50-8.50 41
WASTE HANDLINGAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Loading Manure with Tractor & Loader, rate per hour 97.22 90.00 50-200 9
Hauling and Spreading Dry Manure, rate per hour 160.83 120.00 70-375 12
HARVESTING GRAINS & SOYBEANSAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Combining Irrigated Corn, flat rate per acre 38.22 35.00 18-95 101
Combining Irrigated Corn, flat rate per bushel 0.27 0.35 0.08-0.42 18
Combining Dryland Corn, flat rate per acre 34.82 30.00 14-90 123
Combining Dryland Corn, flat rate per bushel 0.24 0.25 0.08-0.37 9
Combining High Moisture Corn, flat rate per acre 42.31 45.00 30-110 45
Combining Soybeans, flat rate per acre 35.40 35.00 20-66 140
Combining Grain Sorghum, without pickup header, flat rate per acre 34.40 35.00 20-45 10
HAULING OPERATIONSAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
- From Combine with Tractor and Grain Cart, rate per acre 5.27 6.00 2-10 13
- From Combine with Tractor and Grain Cart, rate per bushel 0.08 0.05 0.04-0.18 16
- Grain Truck to Storage or Elevator, flat rate per bushel 0.13 0.10 0.05-0.25 61
- Grain (above 20 miles), additional charge per bushel 0.10 0.10 0.01-0.32 42
- Dry Edible Beans to Storage or Elevator, rate per bushel 0.14 0.12 0.10-0.25 10
Hauling Large Round Bales of Hay or Cornstalks (avg load 18.6 Tons), rate per loaded mile 3.83 4.00 2.50-4.50 10
Hauling Cattle by Semi-trailer Truck (avg load 50,000 lbs), rate per loaded mile 3.89 4.00 2.50-4.50 14
MAKING SILAGE AND EARLAGEAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Corn Silage (field chopping, hauling, filling, packing silo), flat rate per ton 9.25 - 4-15 8
Corn Silage (field chopping and hauling), flat rate per ton 8.06 10.00 5.50-10 8
HAULING SILAGEAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Hauling Silage from Field to Silo by Truck, rate per hour 88.57 100.00 45-100 7
Hauling Silage from Field to Silo by Truck, rate per ton 3.28 3.00 2.75-4.00 7
OTHER CUSTOM SERVICESAverage RateMost CommonRangeNumber Reporting
Drying Grain, per point of moisture removed, rate per bushel 0.04 0.02 0.02-0.10 6
Renting Bin Storage, rate per bushel 0.02 0.03 0.01-0.05 18
Elevating Grain (on farm), rate per bushel 0.03 0.03 0.01-0.10 7
Checking Pivots During Irrigation Season, rate per acre 16.22 10.00 5-25 9
Closing Pivot Tracks, rate per hour 75.50 100.00 25-100 10
Closing Pivot Tracks, rate per pivot 324.67 100.00 100-750 15
Mowing Grass Pasture or CRP, rate per acre 20.13 20.00 5-65 12
Skid Steer Loader Rent, rate per hour 76.39 - 28-135 9
Clearing Cedar Trees, rate per hour 91.36 100.00 45-125 11
Auto Steer System - GPS Mapping, rate per acre 1.94 1.00 1-4 8