Four colleges have officially merged to become Scotland's Rural University College (SRUC).
Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges and the Scottish Agricultural College, which offer training in land-based industries, have combined as the SRUC, which has become the largest institution of its kind in Europe.
The SRUC is already undertaking research with reach in more than 50 countries, training and educating over 8,000 further and higher education students across its six campuses, and providing rural business consultancy for more than 12,500 customers.
It is now working towards obtaining degree awarding powers by 2014.
SRUC's chairman Lord Jamie Lindsay said: "Within the lifetime of today's SRUC students, world food production must almost double to feed the growing population.
"This must be done on less land with diminishing resources, while protecting the environment and addressing the challenges posed by climate change.
"In addition, the growing need for innovation in the rural industries and increasing diversity in food production means ever more complex jobs requiring appropriately skilled and qualified people.
"Here in Scotland, we need to continue to raise the competitiveness of the agri-food industry, which is currently worth over £12 billion a year."
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Rural communities have a huge part to play in Scottish life and Scotland's successes but it's vital that people have access to the right skills to help their communities flourish in a modern Scotland.
"This merger of our land-based colleges will ensure that Scots have access to the highest quality training and research which will stand our rural communities in good stead for generations to come."