It was considered very much a privilege to be at Rodbaston to study, and there was fierce competition for the limited supply of places. Some of the outdoor activities as a student took the form of visits to see farms and manufacturers, especially of fertilisers. This was the heyday of developments in the science and chemistry of fertilisers, which were seen as something of a miracle cure for the productivity problems of the farming industry.
There was little discussion or interest then in the organic or sustainable side of farming, training was all about maximising production and developing intensive practices. Students went to the Ferguson Tractor and Machinery Factory in Coventry to see
the first mass produced British agricultural tractor, the Ferguson Model TE20. It was Harry Ferguson’s most successful design, commonly known as the ‘Little Grey Fergie.’ Manufactured from 1946, it was a lightweight but effective design and was symbolic of the sort of technical advance that students could expect to see on farms when they left Rodbaston.
Students also visited the Standard Motor Company, based in Coventry. Once a month a speaker would come to Rodbaston and give an evening talk on various aspects of farming and the changes that were taking place in the industry in the 1950s and 60s.