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Vermeer Launches Self-Propelled Baler Prototype

By Spencer Myers Published: Nov 06, 2017

Vermeer is trying to change how you bale with their ZR5, a new self-propelled baler prototype.

Livestock farmers and bale handlers have long been using the tractor and baler combination to take care of residue and bale grasses for their livestock. However, tractors can often be too powerful for the baler and thus a waste of power and fuel.

To solve this problem and give farmers a more efficient baler set-up, Vermeer has just come out with a self-propelled baler prototype called the ZR5. Vermeer isn’t the first company to try solving this problem. New Holland used to offer a self-propelled baler, specifically the New Holland 1425, but they quit production after the 1970s.

The Vermeer ZR5 baler steers with two hydraulic wheels at the rear of the machine. At the front are two caster-style wheels, similar to what you see on a lawn mower but larger. This steering system gives the machine great maneuverability much like a swather or zero-turn mower.

You can rotate the baler 90 degrees to turn the bales in line for pick up. This lets you save time when picking and hauling the bales because you aren’t having to manually stop and maneuver the baler. With a flick of a switch, the baling unit on the ZR5 can rotate and then open so the bale is released at the desired angle.

The ZR5 baler is designed to solve two problems people are seeing in the ag industry: A demand for a more maneuverable baler set up, and a lack of qualified staff and machinery operators.

The ZR5 has the cab right above a suspension unit for a smoother ride, and placed in front of the baling unit for great visibility. One of the best features of the ZR5 is a camera system to enhance visibility and cut down on operator fatigue.One camera is mounted on the undercarriage to watch the crop as it enters the pickup and a second camera mounted on the back of the cab lets you watch the bale leaving the tailgate. Now operators can comfortably watch as the crop enters and leaves the baler on a display in front of them, rather than constantly turning their head or exiting the cab.

What if the baler breaks down and my cab is still fine?

Vermeer is a step ahead of you, giving the ZR5 the ability to swap out different baling units with the same cab. Certain baling units will be compatible with the cab, and Vermeer plans to release more information on this soon.

While the machine can’t be bought at a dealership just yet, farmers and manufacturers in the U.S. got an early look at the prototype at the annual Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska this past August. Right now the ZR5 is just a prototype but it looks like it will be in the marketplace very soon. With so many tractors and machines available, the choices for the “right” set up can be overwhelming to farmers just looking for an efficient and fast way to get their hay off the ground.

A self-propelled baler could make operating easier, decrease the amount of time farmers spend on the field, and hopefully make the expression “make hay while the sun shines” a little bit more fun.

For more information about the Vermeer ZR5 Prototype head over to