One trend stood out on my trip to the Farm Progress Show this year. I spent the week first visiting Vermeer in Pella, Iowa, then the rest of the week looking for new products at the show itself. New products and even prototypes were easy to find. Some were brand new, but many were improvements on existing products. It appeared that more companies are listening to what customers say about their products, and are taking the comments to heart.
Vermeer prides itself on not only listening to customers, but seeking them out and paying attention to what they have to say. In fact they say that the new version of their corn stalk round baler introduced recently with what's called an 'in-line-ramp' directly resulted from user feedback.
Most balers discharge bales directly out the back. If you're baling corn stalks, this means the bale lands horizontal across rows. To pick it up with most bale spears, you must come in from the end of the bale. That meant driving over rows, resulting in a rough, slower ride on the tractor as you retrieved a bale.
Customers asked for a system that would allow them to drive with the rows, staying on smooth ground, and drive straight into a bale with a bale spear or bale forks.
Vermeer took the comments back to their engineers, who figured out how to add an arm that would catch the bale and turn it, then discharge it in line with corn rows. It required beefing up the rear end of the baler, so the option can't be retrofitted to existing balers, but it simplifies and speeds up picking up bales, not to say makes it more convenient and pleasant.
The option works best on relatively level fields, spokespersons say. On rolling ground there may still be enough bale movement that you may still have to cross rows to pick up bales. But on flatter terrains, it's a real plus.