ZR5-1200 self-propelled baler named the “Coolest Thing Made in Iowa”
What’s the coolest thing made in Iowa? It’s none other than the Vermeer ZR5-1200 self-propelled baler. 

That’s according to the first “Coolest Thing Made in Iowa” contest organized by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). The ZR5-1200 bested nearly 70 other Hawkeye State products — from motor homes and bourbon to pipe organs — when the winner of the three-month-long online contest was announced in early June.  

“My grandfather (Gary Vermeer) was a farmer. He founded Vermeer on a spirit of innovation by simply searching for a better way to do hard work. Receiving this award is incredibly special as it indicates his legacy continues on,” Mindi Vanden Bosch, Vermeer vice president of operations, said at the June 5 announcement in Davenport, Iowa. 


Buy a Vermeer baler: Low-rate financing available on ZR5-1200 


The ZR5-1200 is certainly a deserving winner. The groundbreaking machine became the world’s first self-propelled baler when it was introduced in 2017. It was launched widely the following year.  

The ZR5-1200 is just the latest Vermeer forage innovation. Company founder Gary Vermeer created the first large round baler in 1971.  

“I am proud of the cool equipment we build and even more proud of the team who designs, builds and supports it. I’m also proud to have been nominated alongside an incredible line up of cool things made in Iowa,” Vanden Bosch said. 

Coolest Thing Made in Iowa: How ZR5-1200 earned the honor 

The Iowa ABI began the contest in March, when 67 products were nominated as candidates for the first “Coolest Thing in Iowa” designation. The ABI held several rounds of votes before the final four candidates were announced in late May.  

Other products in the final group were:  

  • Pipe organs (Dobson Pipe Organ Builders) 
  • Musco Sports Lighting (Musco Lighting) 
  • Safe T Homes (Sukup Manufacturing)  

After the final round of votes were tallied, the Iowa ABI announced the ZR5-1200 as the contest winner on June 5 during its Taking Care of Business Conference.  

The “Coolest Thing in Made in Iowa” honor was created to bring attention to Iowa’s manufacturing industry. Manufacturing accounted for about 14 percent of Iowa’s total workforce in 2021 and created $38.6 billion in total output that year, according to data maintained by the National Association of Manufacturers. 

Pella-based Vermeer was founded in 1948 and currently employs about 3,500 Iowa residents.  

Vermeer ZR5-1200: Baling hay easier 

The ZR5-1200 was made widely available in 2018 to help livestock producers bale hay more efficiently — and more comfortably.  

In-cab technology in the ZR5-1200 helps with operator comfort, and the machine’s ingenuity reduces the manual steps to bale hay.  

Here’s the top features available in the Vermeer ZR5-1200: 

Independent suspension system and cab comfort

Baling hay means long days. The ZR5-1200 makes those long days less tedious and more comfortable.  

With the cab positioned over the suspension, operators experience a smooth ride. The patented independent suspension system from Vermeer helps operators manage uneven ground conditions as well.  

Meanwhile, the airtight cab reduces noise, minimizes the dust in the cab and provides wide visibility. 

TempSense™ technology

ZR5-1200 operators receive real-time insights to help prevent bearing failure with TempSense. This Vermeer innovation utilizes wireless sensors strategically placed within the bale chamber to monitor high-stress bearing temperatures in real time and alert the operator to bearings that may need inspection or maintenance. Responsive steering controls  

The ZR5-1200’s zero-turn capability allows operators to navigate tight turns between windrows and in irregular-shaped fields. When you’re done baling, save additional time with the machine’s integrated quarter-turn technology. This allows operators to place bales parrel to the windrow for convenient pickup.  

Automated baling process

The ZR5-1200’s automation reduces the baling process down to just one step. When baling in automatic mode, the ZR5-1200 control and hydraulic drive systems adjust in real time based on field and crop conditions. These systems can open and close the tailgate automatically.  

Coolest Thing Made in Iowa: Low-rate financing on ZR5-1200 through June 2024 

Now’s a great time to be in the market for a top hay baler like the Vermeer ZR5-1200.  

Through the end of June, Vermeer is offering low-rate financing on the ZR5-1200, along with a hard-to-beat satisfaction guarantee. Customers who enroll in our 100% satisfaction guarantee may return their ZR5-1200 to its original Vermeer dealership for repurchase within 90 days of the retail sale date (usage of baler cannot exceed 500 bales and must be in good condition).  




Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. 

Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. 

Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications. 

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. 

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