Custom Machine Work Costs


December 18, 2023 - Farm Business Team,

Many farm operations reach out to other farms to help fulfill production activities.  These custom operators can fill a gap that would otherwise make it difficult to meet farm goals.  The MSU Custom Work Rates report offers a base to determine a fair exchange value for both provider and recipient of custom work.

The 2023 Custom Work Rates report covers a wide number of basic field machine operations. It provides a summary of the estimated costs of these operations based on the University of Minnesota’s Machinery Economic Cost Estimates worksheet. The MSU version published here provides Michigan-based estimates of the costs of operating machinery in these different production tasks. This publication also divides the costs into some of their component parts.

Keep in mind that rates can be different in areas of Michigan 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.

Custom operators need to consider relevant factors that impact their costs and adjust their custom rate charge accordingly. In some cases, adjustment may be needed for changes in the price of fuel and differences in size or efficiency of the machine work done. It is common for small custom jobs to have a 20% to 30% higher cost of operation than a larger job. 


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