Morrisons has teamed up with the Scottish Agricultural College to open a farm at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire.

The Morrisons Farm will rear traditional cattle and sheep breeds. The first livestock – which will arrive later this year – will be Shorthorn and Angus cattle. Some arable crops will also be grown for animal feed.

Morrisons chief executive Marc Bolland told The Telegraph: “We are already very close to farmers, but we want to do more. This will give our relationship more depth.”

Morrisons and the agricultural college hope that the farm will become a “centre of excellence”, carrying out research and developing best practice for the industry.

Bolland said: “We are investing in taking a leading role in applied farm research and making a contribution to helping the long-term sustainability of British farming.”

Morrisons is the only major UK retailer to slaughter its own meat, run its own bakeries and produce its own cheese, bacon and sausages. Morrisons said it also wanted to open a second research farm in Southeast England later this year.

NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren, said: “By Morrisons investing in this way – not least by becoming farmers themselves – the understanding with the farming industry can be developed further. It is these kinds of initiatives that will help forge a sustainable future for our sector.”