Iowa’s 2008 Farm Custom Rate Survey, published in March, already needs updating because of increasing fuel prices, says William Edwards, the extension economist who conducted the survey.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” Edwards says. Growers have been wondering how best they can adjust fuel prices, as the survey assumes diesel fuel at $2.75/gallon delivered to the farm, he adds. If diesel fuel costs $4/gallon today, the total cost of planting, spraying and harvesting will increase by 7-10%, he estimates, and tillage by 10-15%, depending on the depth at which the soil’s tilled.

For estimated fuel consumption values per acre for many mechanical field chores, growers may want to use ISU Extension publication Pm-709, “Fuel Required for Field Operations.” Multiplying the fuel used per acre by the change in the price of fuel since the survey was conducted can provide an estimate of the most-recent cost increases per acre. This publication can be found at Or call 515-294-5247. The 2008 survey can be downloaded at

Call Edwards at 515-294-6161 or email him at