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Karin Stark’s (tw: @karinstark79) international and professional history combines 18 years of engagement with communities around contemporary environmental issues. She founded the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference in 2019 and is Director of Farm Renewables Consulting. She’s a mum and also works part-time for ReAqua, with previous roles within the NSW State Government and in Landcare. Her family farm has Australia’s largest solar-diesel irrigation system at 500kW and 1500 panels.
In our conversation, we talk about her interest in art, the London Cycle Hire Scheme, and renewable energy in agriculture.
[00:47] Studying Environmental Science and Sustainable Development
[01:53] Working in sustainable transport
[02:53] The London Cycle Hire Scheme
[04:27] What coordinating the program entails
[06:19] The effect of bike helmet laws on cycle hire programs
[08:42] Transitioning to renewables in agriculture
[09:36] Introduction to solar in irrigation
[11:03] About their Narromine cotton farm
[11:42] The controversy around cotton
[13:09] Operating costs of diesel pumps
[13:28] Installation of the largest hybrid solar / diesel pump system in Australia
[14:26] Reduction of carbon emissions
[15:10] Other farms setting up similar systems
[15:43] Founding the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference
[17:24] Interstate participants
[18:00] Leasing energy as a secondary income
[19:00] The controversy behind the use of ag land
[21:02] Other agriculture businesses taking up renewables
[22:07] What is involved in leasing land for energy production
[23:11] About Reaqua and solar irrigation
[25:15] What’s next for the conference
[25:39] Sample of the speakers for the next event
[26:48] Sharing of new developments in alternative energy solutions
[28:11] Support for agricultural renewables in other Australian states
[29:29] The impracticality of remote conferences for regional areas
[30:10] Moving towards a renewables led recovery
[30:55] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[32:32] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[34:36] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
Addendum: At [11:42], Karin wished to clarify:
“I should clarify that you can grow cotton on dry land (no irrigation but perhaps not best in a desert) but the yield would be poor.
A farmer will grow whatever is most profitable with the water allocation they have. It shouldn’t matter if it’s cotton, corn or canola.”
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