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Self Propelled Balers: The Next Big Thing?

Posted on October 5, 2018 at 12:40 AM

With Vermeer's new innovation, the ZR5, the world's first self propelled round baler, we find ourselves wondering, will self propelled round balers be the next big thing? Just take a look at how the combine evolved, from stationary threshers, to pull behind units with mounted motors, to the large behemoths that roam the countryside today. Will round balers follow the same path as combines? Or will the self propelled round baler only be a fad and be a collectable in 50 years? We will look at it from all angles.

Combines also started out as pull behind units, but when manufacturers started making self propelled units, they caught on quick, and now no manufacturer makes a pull-behind unit and haven’t for decades now. Combines have such a important job on the farm, it only makes sense that they are a dedicated machine, with their own engines and drivetrains. But many hay farmers use their tractors for multiple purposes throughout the seasons, especially livestock producers. It wouldn’t make sense for a lot of them to have a dedicated machine for round baling, when they could have another tractor that could be used on multiple implements. Also if the tractor breaks down you can put another tractor on the baler, that is not the case with a self propelled round baler.

Although the ZR5 is the first self propelled round baler it is not the first self propelled baler. New Holland made a self propelled version of their small square baler many years ago, although there are still many in use today, it never caught on and New Holland decided to seize production. There is also a lesser known company called Freeman, that continues to make Self Propelled square balers, although I have never seen one here in the U.S. These self propelled square balers never caught on, mostly due to the fact that they didn’t have much to offer that a regular pull behind baler couldn’t.

But round balers are different. Better maneuverability and visibility in the field could give self propelled round balers the boost they need to gaintraction in the marketplace. There is no word on price yet, but if it is comparable to the price of a new round baler and compatible tractor, then it may make perfect sense for larger producers and custom operators. But farmers are a hard group to convince and until they start hitting the local fields and dealer lots, it is nothing but a crazy idea to the average farmer. And like most crazy ideas it will take time and evidence to prove to farmers that self propelled balers are superior to their pull-behind counterparts.

I believe the fate of self propelled round balers lies heavily on Vermeer. If they bring out a machine that is nothing but headaches then that will leave a permanent stain on the industry, and will remain in farmers minds for many years to come. On the other hand if the ZR5 is a dependable machine and starts to catch on, it wouldn’t be long before other manufacturers followed suit. Only time will tell, but I think if the ZR5 is a solid machine they will become common place on larger operations but I don’t see them coming to small farms for a while.

What do you think? Will the self propelled round baler catch on? Would you own one? Tell us what you think, leave a comment below!

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Reply JoeyLP
12:47 PM on October 4, 2018 
I don't think they'll ever catch on, I mean how are you suppose to unplug the thing?
Reply AlfalfaMan
3:00 PM on October 4, 2018 
I think they'll be way better in the field than pull behinds, and probably quicker on the road too. I'm just waiting on a price!
Reply Outlaw
9:10 PM on October 4, 2018 
I'd like to try one but have a feeling the price will offset my wanting to try it.
Reply Dusty
3:09 PM on October 17, 2018 
I agree, I'd love to try one, hopefully they build them to last.