by BETTER FARMING STAFF
A triennial provincial survey that’s a popular resource not only for operators who offer custom work, but also for farmers wanting a quick way to evaluate their equipment costs for growing field crops, will soon be under way.
John Molenhuis, Ontario agriculture ministry business analysis cost of production program lead, says the questionnaire will be mailed out in early December. “We do have a mailing list that we send it out to but we’re always looking for new people to come on,” he says.
The survey offers a breakdown of rates for different custom farm services such as tillage, stalk chopping, seeding, fertilizer and nutrient applications and harvesting. The information is drawn from custom operators throughout the province. More than 250 operators participated in the 2012 survey.
There is always solid representation from operators offering field crop services, Molenhuis says, but “we’d like to see more (participation) on the forage operations and on the manure spreading operations.”
Results are broken down into six regions and also summarized for the province.
In this survey, participants will see for the first time questions about precision agriculture services, such as variable rate seeding or variable rate fertilizing.
People who are new to offering custom services often use the survey, says Molenhuis, as do farmers who might want a simple and quick way of calculating costs across their crops. “We always like to see them (farmers) have their own cost of production in there rather than relying on custom rates, but if they’re just trying to decide whether to grow corn or soybeans then perhaps the relative differences across the custom rates and the relative differences across their own machinery costs are about the same,” he says.
What surprises him is how custom rates show only gradual incremental change over the years. “In general the costs do track upwards but it’s certainly not dramatic,” he says, noting that often rates only rise $1 to $2 across three years.
“But we do see the sizes of the equipment increasing over that time and the amount of acres they can cover in an hour increasing, so maybe that’s how they’re trying to keep custom rates in line,” Molenhuis says.
The survey report usually publishes in February or March. Survey participants are sent their own copies of the report.
To be involved, contact Molenhuis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613 475-9472. BF