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Manure Important in Crop Budgets

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
September 28, 2016         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Manure Important in Crop Budgets
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (9/28/16) —Farm budgets are very difficult on most farms this year. Many, probably most farms can’t pay all of the production costs, make loan payments, and pay for normal family living needs with $3 corn and $9 soybeans. Most current commodity prices don’t work very well for covering farm and family living expenses right now. Things do vary some from farm to farm.

As the crop is harvested, land is available for manure application and manure application is a significant part of the fall work on livestock farms. Fall manure applications are a significant first step toward the next crop year. Applying manure in a way that provides the best opportunity for using nutrients for next year’s crop can be a significant part of managing next year’s crop production budget.

If you’re not sure you’re making the best use of manure nutrients for your crops, there are several sources of information and assistance. University of Minnesota Extension has done a lot of field trials and research with manure applications related to meeting crop needs. A lot of information can be found by doing a website search for “Minnesota Extension Manure Management.” This includes a spreadsheet for calculating the value of manure based on how and when it is applied, crop nutrient needs, application costs, and other factors. Some Extension staff are available to consult with farmers about manure application strategies and practices. You’re welcome to call the County Extension Office with for assistance in getting information and working on this task.

Most County Soil and Water Conservation Districts have someone on staff who works with manure application planning. Some Watershed Districts do this work too. There might be cost share resources available to help with cost of doing manure and soil testing as a basis for better use of manure nutrients. Independent crop consultants and farm store agronomy advisors do work on managing manure nutrients effectively.

It is important to remember that manure nutrients are not free. The cost of hauling and applying manure can sometimes be greater than the value of the nutrients that crops are able to make use of. For the livestock farmer, the task it sometimes to maximize the amount handling and application costs that can be recovered in the value of nutrients that the crop can use.

This is also a time of year when neighbors can talk to each other about events and activities that could be helpful to know about as manure application work is done.

Custom Rates

Here are some examples of custom rates for fall work based on the Iowa State Custom Rate Survey done in the spring of 2016. These are per acre costs, unless noted otherwise.

Combining Corn
Average   Low        High
$34.75     $23.00     $55.00
Combine with Chopper Head 
$40.10     $26.00     $55.00
Combine Soybeans
$34.05     $25.00     $52.00
Chopping Corn Stalks
$11.85     $7.00       $19
Moldboard Plowing
$18.80     $12.00     $25.00
Chisel Plowing
$16.45     $12 .00    $22.75
Grain Storage /bu/month
$0.024     $0.015     $0.040
Grain Storage /bu/year
$0.159     $0.09       $0.30

Some people rent grain bins by the month with a minimum that might be equal to 4-6 months of storage.

The full survey can be found by doing an Internet search for “Iowa State Custom Rates 2016” or calling the County Extension Office. These numbers should be viewed as a “starting point” for custom rate considerations. Some factors that can affect custom rates could include field size, field conditions, hazards like rocks, availability, travel distance, trading work, ownership and operating costs, other personal and business goals. Average survey values may not cover total ownership and operating costs.

U of M Extension Ag Economist Bill Lazarus estimates ownership and operating costs in a publication called “Estimated Costs for Farm Machinery Operations.” This can be found with by Internet search also, or by calling the County Extension Office. Farmers can benefit by keeping track of their own data related to operation time and capacity, fuel use, repairs, ownership & operating costs.
SAFETY – With wet harvest conditions, be especially deliberate about making safety a priority. Talk with family member and workers about unique hazardous with wet field and road conditions.


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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