North American machinery manufacturer Vermeer recently unveiled its new prototype self-propelled round baler - namely the ZR5.
AgriLand published details of this machine upon its emergence; it was first shown publicly at Husker Harvest Days - an agricultural equipment and technology event in the US.
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The machine had, up to that point, been put through its paces in hay and grass silage.
Now, the North American manufacturer is testing the machine in maize straw (corn stalks) - a tougher crop to handle.
The Vermeer team has been using the ZR5 to make thousands of 5ft X 6ft corn-stalk round bales. According to the company, this is enabling it to make further updates to the machine's design. It will likely be 2019 before the machine is available commercially.
“Our patent-pending suspension technology allows operators to better handle the bumps and jostling that naturally comes with baling. If you think about all those bumps over the course of the day or multiple days, ride quality can really impact the operator,” said Josh Vrieze, product manager.
In the ZR5, operators experience a smoother, more comfortable ride with the cab uniquely positioned over the suspension.
With a nod to the lawn-care industry, Vermeer has employed ‘zero-radius turning’ technology to this new machine’s steering system. This feature, says Vermeer, allows better maneuverability than a conventional tractor-baler combination.
“Operators can spend less time turning in the field and more time baling. The zero-radius turning can eliminate skipping a windrow [or swath] to make the turn, or swinging out wide to get into the next one,” added Vrieze.
“And, when it’s time to head to the next field, zero-radius turning can be disengaged. Folks who have operated other, similar self-propelled machines will appreciate the dual-steering functionality; with the zero-turn disengaged, the operator steers the ZR5 using the front wheels for a smooth, confident ride.”
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.