Combines, foragers, potato harvesters and just about everything else, it seems, can be had in the guise of a self-propelled machine.

Why not a baler? And why not even a ‘small’ square baler?

Several manufacturers have toyed with the concept of a self-propelled big square baler, including Deutz-Fahr (PowerPress) and Krone.

Companies like New Holland have even successfully built and sold self-propelled ‘small’ square balers.

Perhaps the most eye-catching version of a ‘small’ square baler, that moves without the assistance of a tractor, is the Freeman 280SP. It is designed and built at Freeman’s factory in Oregon, USA.

Freeman, an established brand in the USA, manufactures a range of baling equipment, including traditional side-feed and inline ‘small’ square balers, big square balers, bale wagons and stackers.

The company’s history can be traced back to the late 1800s. It became part of Allied Systems Company in 2004.

The latest version of Freeman’s self-propelled ‘small’ square baler is notable for its 99hp, 4.5L John Deere engine and cab.

It has an on-the-go moisture sensor and a full-colour, remote-mounted video camera, enabling the operator to keep an eye on the knotters.

The machine produces a bale with a cross-section of 0.41m x 0.46m (16” x 18”).

With an overall width of 3.71m, the 280SP might not be a very practical proposition here in Ireland. In the USA, however, roads and gateways are considerably wider.

The machine tips the scales at 6.35t.

1,000,000 bales through your baler

Freeman also builds a self-propelled big square baler – the 1592SP. The company claims that this machine is capable of producing in excess of one million bales in its lifetime. It is notable for its hydraulically-driven plunger.

The 1592SP can be fitted with a direct cutting head for single-pass cutting and baling of dead, standing material, such as wheat straw or miscanthus.

Alternatively, it can be fitted with a rake system out front, so that cut and dried material can be rowed up and baled in a single pass.