Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Custom machine work rates

Ned M. Birkey and Dennis Stein, Michigan State University Extension

Many farmers either hire some farm work to be done or perform custom work for others. What is a fair amount to charge or to pay for such work? Michigan State University has pdf file2011 Custom Machine and Work Rate Estimates, edited by MSU Extension’s Dennis Stein, available free, which outlines labor, tractor and machine rental rates as determined by a survey of farmers from around the state of Michigan.

Some spring custom rate numbers for the following items may be helpful for farmers as they settle up accounts. All rates are per acre unless otherwise noted. These numbers are average prices for the state.

Moldboard plowing (6 bottom)
Chisel plowing (23-foot)
Mulch tilling (disk-chisel)
V-ripping (15 inches deep)             
Tandem disking (21-foot)
Soil finisher
Field cultivator (23 foot)
Corn planting, minimal till (12 row)
Drilled, no till soybeans (15-foot)
Mowing and conditioning hay (9-foot)
Hay baling, small, square bales
Fertilizer spreading, bulk
High clearance self-propelled sprayer

Rates in different areas of Michigan may be higher or lower than the state average depending upon several factors. These can include: field size and shape; ease of access; amount of non-farm traffic to get to the field; machine size and road or bridge widths; trash in the field; weed history; trees or brush hindering work; depth and amount of field drainage tile; payment arrangements and other factors.

Fuel prices have increased dramatically since this MSU survey was taken. Farmers need to consider their current fuel prices and adjust their custom rate charge according to their actual costs.

For a free copy of this MSU Extension fact sheet, go to or contact your local county Extension office.