Increased productivity, greater efficiency and improved operator comfort, Vermeer unveiled the industry’s first self-propelled round baler at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Nebraska Sept. 13.
The prototype ZR5 incorporates Vermeer’s proven round baler technology, coupled to a Cummins-powered power unit featuring hydrostatic transmission. The machine has zero-turn technology, similar to that of a zero turn lawnmower. Mark Core, executive vice president of Vermeer, said the prototype’s speed and maneuverability is a dramatic leap forward in productivity.
“Operators can spend less time turning in the field and more time baling. The zero-radius turning can eliminate skipping a windrow to make the turn, or swinging out wide to get into the next windrow,” added Josh Vrieze, Vermeer product manager. “And, when it’s time to head to the next field, zero-radius turning can be disengaged.”
Improved ride quality means faster machine operation, Vrieze added. “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.”
While still a prototype, automating the baling process, as well as providing the ability to automatically make real-time adjustments based on field, crop and operator inputs, are just a couple of the goals Vermeer has for the ZR5. 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 percent faster. The automated process reduces from 9 to 1 the number of steps needed to complete bale tying and discharge, Core said.
The baler uses the same concept as other Vermeer round balers, although this unit is driven hydraulically. That gives the operator more infinite control of operations as crop conditions change.
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.
Core said the machine will be available to farmers, although the prototype will likely feature further innovations. "We will build the first one less than a year from now," Core said. No price has been determined.