Updated: August 30, 2021

FS 683

Custom Work Charges in Maryland 2021

Introduction

Financial and economic considerations such as limited capital, untimely cash flow, insufficient labor, small acreage or other reasons require farmers to hire custom service for field operations. Custom work charges are determined by demand and supply and are negotiated between farmers and custom operators. The purpose of this publication is to provide information on custom work charges in Maryland and to provide data to assist in decision-making regarding purchasing equipment.

Using Custom Rate Information

  • Custom operators use custom rates to compare rates with competitors.
  • Farmers use custom rates as a guide for machinery, budgeting, and financial planning.
  • Lenders, educators, and government agencies use custom rates for budgeting, advising, and analysis.

Rates that are quoted in this publication are expressed in different ways depending on the specific job (per acre, hour, ton, mile, bale, etc.). The rates provided are to help custom operators and farmers make decisions about rate charges. The prices reported are not official or established rates but an average of responses from the survey.

Reported rates include charges for machines, power, fuel, lube, and the labor/operator. These rates do not include the costs of chemicals, seeds, and other materials with the exception of hay baling materials and where noted (i.e. spreading lime).

Custom rates in this publication may not suit all custom operators and those hiring custom work. It is important that operators calculate their own custom costs. It is also important that farmers create their own budgets which include their variable costs and fixed costs and do not rely only on custom rates to determine their cost of production.

Collage of Agricultural work (machinery, grain harvest, harvesting hay, etc.)

Custom Work Charges for 2021

A mail survey was conducted in the fall of 2020 to determine custom works charges in Maryland. Rates were collected from 55 custom operators and farmers and summarized for the state. Participants indicated the rates they charge for various field operations. The charges reported in this publication may serve as a guide in determining an acceptable rate for a particular job when other information is unavailable. The charges can also be compared with costs and returns and may be used as a basis for working out more equitable charges for both the custom operator and customer. Table 1 summarizes the custom work charges for the various operations for the State of Maryland. It shows the range (low and high), average (mean) as well as the median charge. The median refers to the middle of the range. Half of the responses are below and half are above. The median is less sensitive to extreme responses and is a better measure than the average. Table 2 summarizes the last five surveys comparing rates reported for practices in 2021, 2019, 2017, 2015, and 2013. 2021 Survey special notes – The planting practice, sprigging was added this year but did not receive any responses. These responses were removed due to no response: manure spreading – liquid injection, custom farming – small grains, 1,000 gal water wagon rental, and mixing feed. There are wide ranges with some operation charges. Variations may be due to the lack of knowledge about charges and difference in location, topography, field size and shape, crop yields, soil conditions, weather conditions, work quality, equipment type and size, timeliness, or the ratio of available jobs to custom operators. For more crop budgeting information visit: https://extension.umd.edu/programs/agriculture-food-systems/program-areas/farm-and-agribusiness-management/grain-marketing

TABLE 1. 2021 Custom Rates

OPERATION MIN MAX MEDIAN AVERAGE
'21
Stalk Cutting/Chopping (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $26.85 $20.00 $17.77
Plowing-Chisel (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $24.00 $20.00 $21.33
Plowing-Moldboard (Rate/Acre) $24.00 $24.00 $24.00 $24.00
Disking-Heavy (Rate/Acre) $16.00 $21.00 $20.00 $19.00
Disking With Cultipacker/Rolling Baskets (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $34.30 $20.00 $22.46
Cultivating (Rate/Acre) $12.00 $12.00 $12.00 $12.00
Cultipacking (Rate/Acre) $6.00 $18.60 $12.00 $12.20
Sub-soiling (Ripping) (Rate/Acre) $18.00 $29.10 $24.00 $23.22
Soil Finishing (Field Cultivator) (Rate/Acre) $18.00 $20.00 $19.00 $19.00
Vertical Tillage (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $28.80 $16.00 $18.80
Strip Till (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $20.00 $20.00 $20.00
Corn Planting-Conventional w/ Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $20.00 $18.25 $17.92
Corn Planting-Conventional w/o Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $14.00 $20.00 $16.25 $16.63
Corn Planting- No-Till w/ Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $28.00 $22.00 $21.54
Corn Planting- No-Till w/o Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $17.00 $25.00 $20.00 $20.75
Soybean Planting-Conventional (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $26.70 $20.00 $20.04
Soybean Planting-No-Till (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $26.70 $20.00 $20.33
Drilling-Small Grain (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $25.00 $21.20 $21.32
Seeding-Grass Drilling/No-Till (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $25.00 $23.13 $20.38
Seeding-Grass Broadcast (Rate/Acre) $7.00 $18.90 $12.00 $12.78
Seeding-Small Grain Broadcast (Rate/Acre) $6.00 $14.90 $9.00 $9.77
Seeding-Aerial (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $20.00 $20.00 $20.00
Fertilizer Application-Dry (Rate/Acre) $3.50 $15.00 $8.00 $8.57
Fertilizer Application-Liquid (Rate/Acre) $7.50 $12.00 $8.50 $9.08
Fertilizer Application-Side Dress (Rate/Acre) $7.50 $15.00 $9.75 $10.07
Lime-Includes Lime, Application (Rate/Ton) $7.00 $58.00 $34.75 $30.36
Manure Loading (Rate/Ton) $1.50 $6.70 $4.10 $4.10
Manure Spreading-Liquid (Rate/Gal) $0.01 $0.02 $0.01 $0.01
Manure Spreading-Solid (Rate/Ton) $6.00 $15.00 $10.00 $9.68
Manure Spreading-Litter (Rate/Ton) $1.50 $10.00 $8.00 $7.05
Manure Hauling (Rate/Ton) $1.50 $18.80 $5.50 $8.60
Spraying-Pesticide Ground (Rate/Acre) $7.00 $12.90 $8.95 $9.42
Spraying-Pesticide Aerial (Rate/Acre) $11.30 $11.30 $11.30 $11.30
Mowing Hay (Rate/Acre) $12.00 $30.00 $16.00 $19.00
Mowing and Conditioning Hay (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $27.75 $20.00 $20.18
Raking Hay (Rate/Acre) $5.00 $17.00 $10.50 $11.00
Bailing-Small Squares (Rate/Bale) $1.00 $2.80 $1.43 $1.57
Bailing-large Round (Rate/Bale) $8.50 $21.25 $11.00 $13.46
Bailing- Large Square Bales (Rate/Bale) $7.00 $15.00 $9.00 $9.83
Stalk Cutting/Chopping (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $26.85 $20.00 $17.77
Plowing-Chisel (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $24.00 $20.00 $21.33
Plowing-Moldboard (Rate/Acre) $24.00 $24.00 $24.00 $24.00
Disking-Heavy (Rate/Acre) $16.00 $21.00 $20.00 $19.00
Disking With Cultipacker/Rolling Baskets (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $34.30 $20.00 $22.46
Cultivating (Rate/Acre) $12.00 $12.00 $12.00 $12.00
Cultipacking (Rate/Acre) $6.00 $18.60 $12.00 $12.20
Sub-soiling (Ripping) (Rate/Acre) $18.00 $29.10 $24.00 $23.22
Soil Finishing (Field Cultivator) (Rate/Acre) $18.00 $20.00 $19.00 $19.00
Vertical Tillage (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $28.80 $16.00 $18.80
Strip-Till (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $20.00 $20.00 $20.00
Corn Planting-Conventional w/ Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $20.00 $18.25 $17.92
Corn Planting-Conventional w/o Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $14.00 $20.00 $16.25 $16.63
Corn Planting-No-Till w/ Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $28.00 $22.00 $21.54
Corn Planting-No-Till w/o Fertilizer (Rate/Acre) $17.00 $25.00 $20.00 $20.75
Soybean Planting-Conventional (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $26.70 $20.00 $20.04
Soybean Planting-No-Till (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $26.70 $20.00 $20.33
Drilling-Small Grain (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $25.00 $21.20 $21.32
Seeding-Grass Drilling/No-Till (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $25.00 $23.13 $20.38
Seeding-Grass Broadcast (Rate/Acre) $7.00 $18.90 $12.00 $12.78
Seeding-Small Grain Broadcast (Rate/Acre) $6.00 $14.90 $9.00 $9.77
Seeding-Aerial (Rate/Acre) $20.00 $20.00 $20.00 $20.00
Fertilizer Application-Dry (Rate/Acre) $3.50 $15.00 $8.00 $8.57
Fertilizer Application-Liquid (Rate/Acre) $7.50 $12.00 $8.50 $9.08
Fertilizer Application-Side Dress (Rate/Acre) $7.50 $15.00 $9.75 $10.07
Lime-Includes Lime, Application (Rate/Ton) $7.00 $58.00 $34.75 $30.36
Manure Loading (Rate/Ton) $1.50 $6.70 $4.10 $4.10
Manure Spreading-Liquid (Rate/Gal) $0.01 $0.02 $0.01 $0.01
Manure Spreading-Solid (Rate/Ton) $6.00 $15.00 $10.00 $9.68
Manure Hauling (Rate/Ton) $1.50 $18.80 $5.50 $8.60
Spraying-Pesticide Ground (Rate/Acre) $7.00 $12.90 $8.95 $9.42
Spraying-Pesticide Aerial (Rate/Acre) $11.30 $11.30 $11.30 $11.30
Mowing Hay (Rate/Acre) $12.00 $30.00 $16.00 $19.00
Mowing and Conditioning Hay (Rate/Acre) $15.00 $27.75 $20.00 $20.18
Raking Hay (Rate/Acre) $5.00 $17.00 $10.50 $11.00
Bailing-Small Squares (Rate/Bale) $1.00 $2.80 $1.43 $1.57
Bailing-Large Round (Rate/Bale) $8.50 $21.25 $11.00 $13.46
Bailing-Large Square Bales (Rate/Bale) $7.00 $15.00 $9.00 $9.83
Mow, Rake, Bale Hay- No Haul (Rate/Bale) $2.50 $28.00 $23.23 $19.24
Round Bale Wrapping (Rate/Bale) $8.50 $8.50 $8.50 $8.50
Field Chop, Haul, and Fill Silo (Rate/Ton) $7.00 $9.00 $8.00 $8.00
Combining-Corn (Rate/Acre) $25.00 $50.00 $33.50 $34.19
Combining-Soybeans (Rate/Acre) $25.00 $50.00 $35.00 $34.94
Combining-Small Grains (Rate/Acre) $25.00 $50.00 $35.00 $34.88
Custom Farming-Corn (Rate/Acre) $130.00 $130.00 $130.00 $130.00
Custom Farming-Soybeans (Rate/Acre) $122.50 $122.50 $122.50 $122.50
Hauling Grain-Local (Rate/Bu.) $0.10 $0.35 $0.18 $0.19
Hauling Grain- Long Distance (Rate/Bu.) $0.15 $0.62 $0.35 $0.32
Storing Grains (Bu./Month) $0.04 $0.20 $0.10 $0.11
Drying Grains (Rate/Point) $0.02 $0.30 $0.16 $0.16
Grinding Feed (Rate/Cwt.) $0.30 $0.30 $0.30 $0.30
Grinding and Mixing Feed (Rate/Cwt.) $0.30 $0.30 $0.30 $0.30
Soil Testing (Rate/Sample) $6.00 $22.00 $15.00 $14.53
Nutrient Management Planning (Rate/Acre) $1.00 $2.50 $2.00 $1.83
General Farm Labor (Rate/Hour) $10.00 $30.00 $15.00 $16.68
Skilled Farm Labor (Rate/Hour) $15.00 $39.30 $20.00 $21.43
Machinery Repair (Rate/Hour) $20.00 $125.00 $90.00 $82.33
Machinery Operation (Rate/Hour) $15.00 $100.00 $32.50 $41.07
Backhoe Rental (Rate/Hour) $60.00 $150.00 $95.00 $97.92
Bobcat Rental (Rate/Hour) $25.00 $150.00 $75.00 $83.22
Bulldozer Rental (Rate/Hour) $90.00 $150.00 $115.00 $119.00
Bush Hogging (Rate/Hour) $30.00 $125.00 $80.00 $83.61
Excavator Rental (Rate/Hour) $30.00 $180.00 $121.25 $112.92
Tractor Rental- <80 HP (Rate/Hour) $30.00 $140.00 $59.00 $72.00
Tractor Rental- 80-120 HP (Rate/Hour) $35.00 $150.00 $85.50 $84.33
Tractor Rental 120-160 HP (Rate/Hour) $28.00 $118.00 $40.00 $62.00
Tractor Rental >160 HP (Rate/Hour) $45.00 $129.00 $55.00 $66.80
Posthole Digging (Rate/Hole) $10.00  $28.50 $19.25 $19.25
Post Driving (Rate/Hole) $8.00 $36.75 $22.38 $22.38
Snow Removal (Rate/Hour) $60.00 $160.00 $107.50 $113.75
Trenching (Rate/Foot) $3.50 $3.50 $3.50 $3.50
Clearing Land (Rate/Hour) $250.00 $250.00 $250.00 $250.00
Mowing CRP Acres (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $100.00 $28.10 $39.37
Mowing (Rate/Acre) $10.00 $10.00 $26.50 $44.50
Tree Planting (Rate/Plant) $43.50 $43.50 $43.50 $43.50
Vegetative Buffer Planting (Rate/Acre) $42.00 $42.00 $42.00 $42.00
Livestock Hauling w/ Trailer (Rate/Loaded Mile)    $2.10 $3.00 $2.55 $2.55
Honey Bee Hive Rental (Rate/Hive) $62.00 $62.00 $62.00 $62.00

TABLE 2: Custom Rate Comparisons

OPERATION UNIT AVERAGE
'21
AVERAGE
'19
AVERAGE
'17
AVERAGE
'15
AVERAGE
'13
Stalk Cutting Acre $17.77 $17.48 $17.04 $17.38 $21.66
Plowing-Chisel Acre $21.33 $21.60 $20.90 $19.36 $20.96
Plowing-Moldboard Acre $24.00 $28.00 $30.50  $24.67 $24.53
Disking-Heavy Acre $19.00 $25.20 $23.75 $22.61 $21.38
Disking with Cultipacker or Harrow Acre $22.46 $22.36 $21.13 $18.70 $23.12
Cultivating Acre $12.00 $12.00 $23.50 $17.70 $14.50
Cultipacking Acre $12.20 $11.58 $19.25 $11.08 $12.04
Sub-soiling Acre $23.22 $22.63 $24.33 $25.06 $21.67
Soil Finishing Acre $19.00 $24.00 $19.00 $19.42 $18.44
Vertical Tillage Acre $18.80 $18.35 $18.05 $18.55 $18.41
Corn Planting- Conventional w/ Fertilizer Acre $17.92 $23.75 $21.17 $18.40 $21.77
Corn Planting- Conventional w/o Fertilizer Acre $16.63 $19.97 $19.92 $17.35 $20.70
Corn Planting-No-Till w/ Fertilizer Acre $21.54 $21.33 $23.25 $19.44 $22.56
Corn Planting-No-Till w/o Fertilizer Acre $20.75 $21.07 $22.83 $19.30 $21.56
Soybean Planting-Conventional Acre $20.04 $20.90 $19.10 $16.96 $21.11
Soybean Planting-No-Till Acre $20.33 $20.88 $22.33 $19.38 $22.07
Drilling-Small Grain Acre $21.32 $21.16 $20.33 $19.92 $20.91
Seeding-Grass Drilling/No-Till Acre $20.38 $23.66 $26.31 $24.48 $32.03
Seeding-Grass Broadcast Acre $12.78 $18.13 $18.00 $16.31 $21.71
Seeding-Small Grain Broadcast Acre $9.77 $11.79 $8.91 $9.83 $14.49
Seeding-Aerial Acre $20.00 $21.60 $21.50 $25.89 $22.75
Fertilizer Application-Dry Acre $8.57 $8.59 $9.22 $8.28 $8.78
Fertilizer Application-Liquid Acre $9.08 $10.59 $9.32 $9.01 $9.18
Fertilizer Application-Side Dress Acre $10.07 $10.30 $10.59 $10.63 $10.87
Lime (includes Lime and Application) Ton $30.36 $37.10 $45.71 $44.86 $39.67
Manure Loading Ton $4.10 $7.25 $6.70 $9.00 $17.40
Manure Spreading-Solid Ton $9.68 $7.50 $14.85 $8.92 -
Manure Spreading-Litter Ton $7.05 $8.87 $8.98 $7.82 $10.11
Manure Hauling Ton $8.60 $8.83 $12.63 $8.69 $14.56
Spraying-Pesticide Ground Acre $9.42 $10.23 $9.86 $9.07 $10.11
Spraying-Pesticide Aerial Acre $11.30 $10.40 $10.75 $15.71 $20.71
Mowing Hay Acre $19.00 $23.46 $31.63 $26.69 $22.57
Mowing and Conditioning Hay Acre $20.18 $31.13 $26.06 $24.93 $19.35
Raking Hay Acre $11.00 $18.00 $15.21 $16.83 $13.85
Bailing-Small Squares Bale $1.57 $1.51 $1.13 $1.10 $1.18
Bailing-Large Round Bales Bale $13.46 $10.47 $9.69 $10.55 $10.00
Bailing-Large Square Bales Bale $9.83 $16.13 $11.48 $7.07 $8.63
Mow, Rake, Bale Hay-No Haul Bale $19.24 $17.88 $8.50 $15.56 $15.78
Round Bale Wrapping Bale $8.63 $8.50 $7.75 $8.00 $6.50
Combining-Corn Acre $34.19 $34.85 $33.89 $30.91 $32.45
Combining-Soybeans Acre $34.94 $34.94 $33.89 $31.02 $32.41
Combining-Small Grains Acre $34.88 $41.21 $34.13 $31.08 $32.01
Custom Farming-Corn Acre $130.00 $130.00 $120.00 $76.75 $95.00
Custom Farming-Soybeans Acre $122.50 $122.50 $120.00 $65.50 $70.00
Custom Farming-Small Grains Acre - - $120.00 $100.00 $76.67
Hauling Grain-Local Bu. $0.19 $0.19 $0.21 $0.19 $0.19
Hauling Grain-Long Distance Bu. $0.32 $0.34 $0.33 $0.27 $0.33
Storing Grains Bu./Mo $0.11 $0.05 $0.22 $0.05 $0.06
Drying Grains Point $0.16 $3.00 $0.32 $0.75 $0.45
Grinding Feed Cwt $0.30 $0.38 $0.35 $0.40 $0.80
Mixing Feed Cwt - - $0.35 $0.40 -
Grinding and Mixing Feed Cwt $0.30 $0.50 $0.40 $14.04 $0.58
Soil Testing Sample $14.53 $11.50 $11.91 $20.33 $18.80
Nutrient Management Plan Writing Acre $1.83 $5.97 $2.75 $12.30 $4.92
General Farm Labor Hour $16.68 $15.27 $12.53 $18.78 $12.68
Skilled Farm Labor Hour $21.43 $23.25 $20.18 $23.11 $18.15
Machinery Repair Hour $82.33 $60.77 $55.41 - -
Machinery Operation Hour $41.07 $30.06 $32.81 $23.11 $25.64
Backhoe Hour $97.92 $77.50 $90.71 $82.13 -
Bobcat Hour $83.22 $65.83 $85.00 $74.53 $76.00
Bulldozer Hour $119.00 $116.67 $112.33 $110.71 $102.92
Bush Hogging Hour $83.61 $66.50 $71.11 $71.20 $74.45
Excavator Hour $112.92 $108.33 $131.67 $117.22 $120.00
Tractor Rental - <80 HP Hour $72.00 $54.00 $56.00 $40.00 $52.14
Tractor Rental - 80-120 HP Hour $84.33 $65.40 $80.83 $62.00 $73.33
Tractor Rental - 120-160 HP Hour $62.00 $57.83 $75.50 $78.33 $59.60
Tractor Rental - >160 HP Hour $66.80 $60.80 $56.20 $87.86 $95.00
1,000 gal Water Wagon Rental Hour - $22.75 $35.00 - -
Posthole Digging Hole $19.25 $30.00 $31.67 $9.50 $14.80
Post Driving Hole $22.38 $106.50 $25.00 $25.33 $9.25
Snow Removal Hour $113.75 $9.00 $102.29 $102.71 $112.50
Trenching Foot $3.50 $193.33 $6.00 $2.61 $13.46
Clearing Land Hour $250.00 $33.00 $300.00 $177.14 $105.22
Mowing CRP Acres Acre $39.37 $22.72 $34.73 $32.77 $33.33
Mowing Acre $44.50 $43.50 $42.28 $31.96 $43.53
Livestock Hauling w/ Trailer Loaded Mile $2.55 $2.35 $2.14 $2.14 $10.13

- Indicates no previous year’s data.

OPERATION AVERAGE
'21
AVERAGE
'19
AVERAGE
'17
AVERAGE
'15
AVERAGE
'13
AVERAGE
'11
AVERAGE
'09
Field Preparation $19.07 $20.29 $21.74 $19.45 $19.67 $16.89 $15.00
Planting $18.31 $20.38 $20.33 $18.84 $21.97 $18.25 $18.32
Field Applications $9.84 $10.88 $11.41 $10.04 $13.87 $11.84 $7.80
Grass and Hay Production $12.32 $15.88 $13.11 $13.84 $12.23 $11.68 $7.54
Harvesting $71.30 $72.70 $76.99 $55.88 $56.42 $62.54 $30.58
Labor $40.38 $32.34 $30.23 $21.66 $18.82 $22.16 $24.61
Equipment Expenses $71.23 $62.78 $74.36 $62.12 $59.19 $54.20 $42.87

 

Custom Rate Summary

Custom Rate Summary Graph

 

 

OPERATION AVERAGE '21 AVERAGE '19 PERCENT CHANGE
Field Preparation $19.07 $20.29 -6%
Planting $18.31 $20.38 -11%
Field Applications $9.84 $10.88 -11%
Grass and Hay Production $12.32 $15.88 -29%
Harvesting $71.30 $72.70 -2%
Labor $40.38 $32.34 20%
Equipment Expenses $71.23 $62.78 12%
AVERAGE TOTAL CHANGE  $34.64 $33.61 3%

 

The accuracy of this survey depends on the number of realistic responses. If you would like to be added to the custom applicator list for future surveys list send your name and mailing address to sdill@umd.edu c/o MD Custom Rates.