The costs of farming.

I’m afraid my posts might be a little sparse through to next week. It’s a busy time of year on the farm – there’s lots of work to be done once I get home from work and unfortunately it doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging. On top of the regular spring stuff, I’ve started looking for a house. This afternoon I met with a mortgage broker, tomorrow it’s the bank and Saturday I’m meeting with a realtor to look at some places. I hope to set aside a bit of time on the weekend to decompress and catch up on all things blogging.

Now that things are starting to dry up here, the push is on to get the fields worked and crops in. That means lots of trips to and from the fields, delivering more seed, fertilizer, lunch, supper, and any other odd tasks I’m been required to do.  Last night, as I was refuelling the tractor, I got thinking about all the costs associated with a farm and how it might make an interesting post.

Alright, so here’s a rough breakdown of the costs to grow 1 acre of no-till, non GMO soybeans (using numbers from OMAFRA).

  Cost (per acre) Notes
Seed  $                55.80 Rough estimate of cost enough seed to plant an acre. 
Fertilizer  $                23.05 This is the cost of actually buying the fertilizer. Fertilizer is getting increasingly expensive.
Pesticides  $                46.25 This cost is highly variable. For instance, last year we had a slug problem and had to spray more than usual. 
Tillage  $                          Aaah, the beauty of no-till soybeans. 
Planting  $                23.40 If you don’t own a seeder, you have to pay someone for this custom work.
Spraying  $                20.15 Cost for applying the bug spray.
Fertilizing  $                10.10 The cost of applying the fertilizer to the field  – I think this is a low average, given the price of fuel these days. 
Combining/Trucking  $                48.95 Harvesting. We don’t own a combine so we have to pay someone to come do all the custom work, including combining. Fun fact – a brand new combine costs in the area of $330,000, which is more than my first house will cost.
Drying  $                11.05 If the moisture content of the soybeans is above 13%, you have to pay to have the soybeans dried, otherwise they’ll go mouldy in storage. 
Marketing  $                10.70 Pretty much unavoidable – cost to sell into the market. 
Total  $             249.45  

So in total, it costs approximately $249.45 to grow and harvest 1 acre of soybeans. 1 acre of soybeans equals approximately 42.8 bushels, which equals approximately 1,100 kg of soybeans. Today’s closing soybean prices were $12.28/bushel, so 1 acre would get you $525. 58 in an ideal world. Remember though, prices can fluctuate, as can the prices of inputs like pesticides and fertilizer, you might not actually harvest as much as 42.8 bushels/acre, and there’s always breakdowns and equipment problems to deal with, and these can all make profit margins much smaller. On the other hand, sometimes prices will shoot up and you can increase your profits. 

Farming is stressful and hard work, and sometimes the money can be tight, but I can’t imagine my family doing anything else.

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

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Categories: Farming, Unavoidable Costs | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “The costs of farming.

  1. Ech. 😦 I know what you mean. We’ll be planting feed for the cattle in the next week, as well.

    So, I noticed you use no-till soybeans. Do you find you save money using a no-till? We need to get a new drill, but we can’t decide if the money we’ll save on gas will be entirely negated by the extra seed we’ll need to buy.

    I would love to know your thoughts on the subject. 🙂

    • Now that we don’t have dairy cows anymore, we’re not growing hay – and we don’t miss it. I think hay is one the most stressful crops to grow! In our experience with no-till soybeans has been positive so far, we’ve definitely noticed a difference in the time and fuel spent preparing the fields. Our yields are about the same as they were with conventional tillage. The soil scientist in me also approves of no till as it helps minimize erosion. OMAFRA has a great info package on no-till you can find here.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Farming is huge where I live and it seems like the big farmers are getting bigger and the small farmers are forced to sell out. One thing that you didn’t include is crop insurance. I’m not sure if you have that in Canada but most farmers have it here. It is subsidized by our government to make it affordable but its another expense for farmers. It’s absolutely crazy how much combines are. You can make some pretty good money by doing custom combining.

    I really like your blog. I will be sure to come back to check it out.

    • Thanks! Unfortunately, it seems like everywhere the big guys are getting bigger and the small guys have to job outside the farm or sell out. We do have crop insurance here in Ontario, and it is subsidized by both the provincial and federal governments. It’s optional, but you’re right, it is another expense. Our estimate for crop insurance is about $12/acre.

      You really have to like spending time in tractors/combines to do custom work, but the money can be amazing – until stuff starts breaking 😉

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