Vermeer expects its modular design to be a selling point for the ZR5, both for ease of service and safety.
The baling chamber is hydraulically connected to the power unit similar to a front-end loader. When disconnected, a switch in the cab lifts the baler from the power unit, allowing the farmer to drive away.
“There’s reasons to remove it. If you want to service the baler instead of crawling over the tires on the machine, you can actually get in and work right on the baler because there’s no side panels, no tires, no axles sticking out. It makes servicing very easy,” Vermeer territory manager Corey Dalman said.
“Another reason is custom operators down the road are going to wear the bale chambers out before the power unit wears out, so you can buy a new baler to go inside the power unit. The other feature of that is should you ever have a fire that you can’t put out inside the baler while you’re baling, you can eject the baler off the (power unit) while you’re driving.”
The 8,000-pound baler would require firm ground or at the least boards if separated in a non-emergency, he said.
Operator comfort is another facet of the company’s pitch, since the automatic wrap-and-drop cycle removes the need for operators to be constantly twisting to look back at the baler, while automatic suspension and large tires lessen jostling even at the machine’s higher speed.
The company has also pitched the unit’s ability to crunch and store data for future use — things such as bale weights, average bale weight and field-specific bale statistics that might be of use for custom operators or producers trying to plan a winter ration or make management decisions.
What about silage?
The ZR5 is marketed as a dry baler only, although the company says it is compatible with an add-on silage kit available through Vermeer. It is not set up with a chopper, Dalman said, although he hinted that a future baler might have a chopper added.
Silage modifications may be an important point in the Prairies, with more and more beef farmers turning to silage for their ration. Provincial extension staff have noted that silage, once largely relevant only to dairy, is now a common staple in beef herds as producers chase energy content and consistent feed, year to year.
The machine has already proven itself in cornstalks, having been designed for the heavy corn regions of the U.S. where producers are looking to bale corn stover.