Since Gary Vermeer invented the round baler in the early 1970s, the evolution of hay baling operations has been marked by a series of refinements that have vastly increased productivity of the operation and quality of the final product.

Vermeer Corp., the company that Gary Vermeer founded, unveiled the next giant leap in haying productivity and efficiency with its development of the first-ever, self-propelled baler. But Vermeer’s ZR5 prototype baler goes beyond merely having its own engine, and provides a clear vision of where haying and baling operations are heading. The company launched the ZR5 at Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska on Sept. 13. A few weeks earlier, the company demonstrated the new machine to a group of Nebraska farmers.

According to Josh Vrieze, Vermeer’s product manager of Forage Solutions, the new baler was developed to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of baling operations. By eliminating many of the steps typically required by an operator driving a tractor and pulling a baler. They say this new approach results in greatly diminishing operator fatigue.