The history of self-propelled forage harvesters initially began with the development of manual forage harvesters. The agricultural machinery producer Segler released the first forage harvester in 1942. The real breakthrough for the harvesters came only after the end of the Second World War, when silage was being used more and more as animal feed for dairy cows and fattened bulls. The first self-propelled forage harvester was not built by producers, but was self-made by an association of farmers. The great advantage that the self-propelled forage harvesters had over previously available models was that they were much more versatile and quicker. A further benefit was that one could begin work in the field straight away instead of having to spend large amounts of time preparing the field before harvesting.
The crop was cut down by the harvester and transported straight to the chopper. Here it was reduced in size by putting it through a revolving drum. This drum has up to 50 sharp blades which, according to the speed the drum is set to, chop the crop into small or large pieces. The cuttings are subsequently placed in the collecting vessel. These forage harvesters now belong to the strongest group of motorised agricultural machines. The current strongest machine, the Model X1000 manufactured by Krone, has close to 1000 horsepower. In addition, the cutting width in the latest models available is capable of reaching 10m in length. A great advantage of working with these forage harvesters is that they are much less labour-intensive than haymaking. The largest machines availably today are best suited for large companies or agricultural contractors.