The prototype is named the ZR5 self-propelled baler.
The prototype is named the ZR5 self-propelled baler.

The prototype ZR5 self-propelled baler introduced by Vermeer is being touted as the world’s first self-propelled round baler.

In 2014, Vermeer unveiled the first continuous round baler (CRB). 

Now, the company has introduced a self-propelled platform.

In this prototype stage, Vermeer has developed two goals for further development: automate the baling process and provide the ability to automatically make real-time adjustments based on field, crop and operator inputs.

“Our patent-pending suspension technology allows operators to better handle the bumps and jostling that naturally comes with baling hay,” says Josh Vrieze, Vermeer product manager. “If you think about all those bumps over the course of the day or multiple days, ride quality can really impact the operator. In the ZR5, operators experience a smoother, more comfortable ride with the cab uniquely positioned over the suspension.”

Inspired by the lawn care industry, the machine is built with a zero-radius turning to the steering system. The zero-turn system eliminates the need to swing out wide skipping one windrow to line up with the next. In transport from field to field, the zero-turn steering can be disengaged.

Integrated quarter-turn technology is part of the ZR5 baling automation process. During the tie-cycle, the machine can automatically rotate to the left or right, positioning the bale parallel to the windrow upon ejection. When placing bales parallel to the windrow, the picking up process can be completed up to 35% faster.

Keeping machine maintenance simple is another objective Vermeer is striving to achieve. The bale chamber can be removed for maintenance in a matter of minutes, helping to ensure producers are spending time productively in the field. 

"Farmers and ranchers are facing one of the same challenges they did in 1971 when Gary Vermeer introduced the round baler, and that is labor,” says Mark Core, Vermeer executive vice president. “As access to labor in rural areas becomes more limited, we believe the type of innovation needed to design the ZR5 will need to continue to pave the way for more efficiency, productivity and an eventual reduction in labor needed to produce the same amount of feed. I’m happy to say Vermeer is proud to be making this investment in innovation and dedicated to leading the way.”