Farm Progress

New IntelliSense Bale Automation system guides the tractor and controls its speed via a lidar sensor that’s mounted to the cab.

Andy Castillo

February 14, 2024

2 Min Read
New Holland’s IntelliSense Bale Automation technology
SMART TECH: In this photo illustration of the IntelliSense Bale Automation system, a lidar sensor affixed to the top of the tractor sends a light beam about 25 feet ahead to sense the windrow’s edges. Then a controller hidden beneath the seat directs the vehicle’s computer where to go. Software in the baler controls the speed. New Holland

With an eye toward fully autonomous baling, New Holland has launched “a first-of-its-kind” baling technology that can automatically navigate over windrows and control tractor speed called IntelliSense Bale Automation.

“Essentially, it’s a combination of two main features: Auto guidance via a lidar system that directs the tractor along the windrow, and the baler actually controls the speed of the tractor,” says Brad Littlefield, a marketing manager at New Holland who focuses on livestock and dairy operations. “We’re combining the ability for the tractor to drive itself, and we’re controlling the amount of material that goes through the baler.”

As opposed to a snapped guidance line that’s dictated by GPS, the IntelliSense Bale Automation system directs the tractor to follow windrows in real time via a puck-shaped lidar sensor that attaches to the top of the cab with a bracket.

A control box, which can be hidden beneath the seat, receives the signals and connects to the tractor’s computer system. (It’s only compatible with at least IntelliView 12.) The lidar beam projects about 25 feet ahead of the tractor and works similar to sonar technology, only using light.

To control speed, the operator sets the number of slices per bale and a maximum speed limit. The baler automatically adjusts forward speed accordingly. The system, which can’t turn itself around at the end of rows, disengages at the press of a button or when the operator manually moves driving controls.

According to Littlefield, the technology might be useful for growers when they’re “really working against the clock to try and get those in bales as quickly as possible — if it rains on it, you have forage quality reduction. … You might have 72 hours to get things done,” he says. “If you don’t have to pay attention, that can take a 12-hour day and turn it into a 16-hour day and not have that operator fatigue.”

For now, the system is exclusively compatible with New Holland’s model year 2022 and 2023 BigBaler Large Square Balers, and with Class 3 ISOBUS tractors. The lidar puck and controller must physically be retrofitted on the tractor. Software updates like speed control are added via unlocks.

Starting in 2025, customers will be able to place orders for the IntelliSense Bale Automation system as a factory-fit option. Immediate integration for the system is available now as a New Holland dealer-installed accessory option.

About the Author(s)

Andy Castillo

Andy Castillo started his career in journalism about a decade ago as a television news cameraperson and producer before transitioning to a regional newspaper covering western Massachusetts, where he wrote about local farming.

Between military deployments with the Air Force and the news, he earned an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Bay Path University, building on the English degree he earned from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He's a multifaceted journalist with a diverse skill set, having previously worked as an EMT and firefighter, a nightclub photographer, caricaturist, features editor at the Greenfield Recorder and a writer for GoNomad Travel. 

Castillo splits his time between the open road and western Massachusetts with his wife, Brianna, a travel nurse who specializes in pediatric oncology, and their rescue pup, Rio. When not attending farm shows, Castillo enjoys playing music, snowboarding, writing, cooking and restoring their 1920 craftsman bungalow.

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