This is how luxury car maker Rolls-Royce is helping to protect wildflowers near Chichester

Cream of the crop - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and the Goodwood Estate celebrate impressive debut for new wild seed harvester. Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Cream of the crop - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and the Goodwood Estate celebrate impressive debut for new wild seed harvester. Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The acquisition was made in 2022 as part of an extension to the partnership the marque has enjoyed with its prestigious neighbour for over 20 years.

The harvester, designed and manufactured entirely in Britain, is towed across pastureland behind a small tractor or all-terrain vehicle (ATV), gently brushing the seeds from grasses and wildflowers into a hopper. Depending on the density of the sward, the 1.2m (4 ft) wide machine can harvest around eight acres (3.2 ha) a day.

During May, June and August, the Wild Seed Harvester collected seeds from different locations on the Goodwood Estate, which is one of the UK’s leading champions of organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Once dried, the wildflower seed can be used to improve biodiversity in both wild and cultivated grassland across the Estate. For example, this autumn it will be broadcast sown in an existing meadow, with the aim of increasing the present population of 49 plant species to 100 or more.

It’s the first time large-scale, mechanical harvesting of this kind has been used on the Goodwood Estate; previous wildflower seed collection has been restricted to particular species and carried out by hand. The Wild Seed Harvester makes the process far more efficient, giving the Estate’s Gardens Team more time to work on other vital nature-based projects.

Wildflowers are essential to preserving and promoting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. They provide a consistent source of food for bees, butterflies and other pollinators throughout the year; their complex root systems can improve soil health and stability, preventing erosion and improving water quality by reducing nutrient run-off.

Andrew Ball, Head of Corporate Relations and Heritage at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said: “We’ve enjoyed a highly productive environmental partnership with the Goodwood Estate over many years. In 2022, we extended our support with a range of fantastic additional projects, including the purchase of the Wild Seed Harvester. It’s wonderful to see the difference it’s already making to the vital work of maintaining and improving our local wildflower populations, which are so important to the appearance and biodiversity of this beautiful place we call home.”

This month, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced that Torsten Müller-Ötvös is to retire as its Chief Executive Officer on November 30. He will be succeeded by Chris Brownridge, currently Chief Executive Officer of BMW UK.

The Home of Rolls-Royce occupies a 42-acre (17 ha) site on the south-west corner of the Goodwood Estate. Since manufacturing operations began in 2003, the marque has supported numerous sustainability projects to both protect and enhance biodiversity in the surrounding area. These include maintaining its own Wildlife Garden and celebrated Goodwood Apiary, and planting over 20,000 trees between the villages of Halnaker and Lavant as part of the Wildlife Corridor linking the South Downs National Park and Chichester Harbour. Rolls-Royce remains wholeheartedly committed to preserving the lush beauty of its picturesque, countryside home.