The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has published its latest price guide to help contractors and farmers benchmark against the UK national average.
Overall, there has been a small rise in prices since last year, which reflects the increasing cost of staff and inputs.
Download the guide
However, the figures still vary significantly according to region, soil type, customer size and machinery used, and farmers should not be surprised to be quoted prices that are higher or lower than the guide.
While cost is important to any business, to get a job done well farmers should also consider the quality, reputation and reliability of their contractor, says NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt.
“Inevitably, I will hear that these costs are both too high and too low. But I urge contractors and farmers to work in partnership, making certain more than just cost is weighed up.
“Consider if safety management is in place, if environmental scheme requirements will be met, if there is sufficient specialist insurance and whether there will be security and longevity on both sides,” she says.
“When backs are against the wall, in times of bad weather, a contractor that turns up with reliable, well maintained machinery will be excellent value.”
Like every industry, there is fierce competition in the contracting sector which can result in prices being driven down. However, a successful business is one that costs its operations carefully and refuses to work for less than a realistic price.
The coming year will have a lot riding on it for land managers, who will be dealing with the impact of a saturated autumn, dry spring and the Covid-19 pandemic. Brexit remains on the horizon, too.
Farming businesses will need a tight rein on costs, while juggling efficiency, carbon balance, soil management, environmental protection, animal welfare and the weather. This will be a time to review strategy and costs, and assess whether it’s worth sharing the risk and investment in high capital cost machinery and skilled labour with a contractor.
What is certain, though, is that if farmers are putting their most valuable asset in the hands of their contractor, then trust, skill and reliability will be just as important as price.