The results of the 2020 early season custom farm work rates survey have been released, said Ron Haugen, North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist.

This survey is conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service North Dakota field office and contains state level custom work rates for land tillage, planting, fertilizer and pesticide application, haying operations and other custom work.

The survey is done in two parts: the early season operations and the late season operations. The early season operations survey is for spring and summer activities such as planting, tillage, pesticide application and haying. The late season operations survey is underway now and surveys fall work such as harvest rates, grain drying and hauling.

The late season survey results are set to be released in December 2020. These surveys are done every four years and are funded by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension.

“The 2020 early season operations survey summarizes about 1,540 reports from farmers, ranchers, aerial sprayers, elevators and custom operators,” Haugen said. “We express our appreciation to these survey participants.”

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The survey shows the number of reports for each operation, the range in rates, the most frequently reported rates and the average rate for each operation. It also compares the current rates to the 2016 rates (the last time the survey was completed). Custom rates include charges for machines and equipment, tractor and power units, fuel, repairs and operator labor.

“In comparing the 2020 early season rates with 2016, rates for 2020 were down slightly for most operations, most likely because of the lower fuel prices,” Haugen said. “Fertilizer applications, pesticide applications and baling were generally higher. There were significant increases in sheep shearing, calf branding and post hole digging.”

The early season operations publication can be found on the NDSU Extension farm management page under publications at