AMES, Iowa — Many Iowa farmers continue to hire at least some of their fieldwork and livestock work to be done by others, and new data provides ranges and averages of what is being paid.

The “2021 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey,” conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, covers the amounts charged and paid for common crop and livestock services. Tillage, planting, harvesting, manure hauling and livestock transportation are all included, along with dozens of other tasks and data points.

Compared to last year, most custom rates saw a decline except for the cost of farm labor, according to Alejandro Plastina, associate professor in economics and extension economist at Iowa State University. Plastina, sent 361 surveys via the U.S. Postal Service in February and 198 by email. The results were based on 118 responses and 3,785 custom rates submitted.

Fourteen percent of the respondents perform custom work, 16 percent hire work done, 45 percent indicated doing both and 25 percent did not indicate whether they perform or hire custom work.

The cost of combining corn ranged from $22 to $45 per acre, with an average of $35.10 per acre. The cost of combining soybeans ranged from $22 to $46 per acre, with an average of $34.20.

The cost to mow hay ranged from $8 to $15 per acre, with an average of $11.35 per acre. The average cost for baling small square bales was $.59 per bale, $9.35 for large square bales, $10.80 for large round bales without wrapping, and $13.20 for large round bales wrapped.

New information in this year’s survey includes rates for seeding cover crops, combining corn with a reel and scouting crops with fixed wing drones.

For more information, Plastina can be reached at (515) 294-6160 or

 This article was submitted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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