Connacht Gold is to set up a new dairy demonstration farm in Co Roscommon, the Farming Independent has learned.
Negotiations on the venture are said to be at an advanced stage, but exact details of the initiative have yet to be finalised and a timeline for having cows on the ground has not been set.
The plan was given the green light by the Connacht Gold board last week and Teagasc has confirmed that it will be involved in the project in a consultative capacity.
A farm has already been identified as a possible base for the venture. The holding, which extends to more than 100ac, is located three miles south of Roscommon town.
While a Connacht Gold source insisted that a final agreement had not as yet been reached on the location of the farm, the co-op is believed to be close to securing a lease of between 10 and 15 years for the Roscommon holding.
The initiative will mirror much of the work being done on a number of dairy demonstration farms that Teagasc already has up and running.
Among them are the Greenfield Farm in Clara, Co Kilkenny, and the Shinagh Farm, near Bandon in West Cork.
However, Connacht Gold aims to put the low input approach to dairying to the test in west of Ireland conditions.
The Roscommon project will also be different from the other two in that the scale will be smaller, at around 100 cows, and the farm will be a conversion from sheep to dairying.
While the ownership structure has to be finalised, it has been suggested that the unit will be farmed in a share milking arrangement.
This would involve the farm manager supplying the milking stock, while Connacht Gold will provide the land and infrastructure.
Replacements will be reared on an outside farm, with milk quota being secured from the national reserve.
Teagasc's role in the initiative will be as management consultants.
The state body will be involved in the overall design of the farm. This will involve the layout of the internal roadways and paddocks, as well as the milking parlour and housing.
Teagasc will also supply ongoing advice on grassland and livestock management, breeding and herd health.