Miguel Paniagua

Meeting Miguel

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Meeting Miguel


My name is Miguel Angel Paniagua Gonzalez, but you can call me Miguel. I am the new Site Manager and Agronomist at NDSU’s Oakes Irrigation Research Site. I started work here at the beginning of March.

I grew up in a town called Santa Ana Maya, in southwestern Mexico about 150 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Santa Ana Maya is a small town of farmers very similar to Oakes. 

Since I was young I worked with my dad in the field. At the time farming was not to my liking, but as I grew up I found the passion and love for the countryside. I was always involved in agricultural activities. Like many farm kids in North Dakota, I was driving a tractor before learning to drive a vehicle.  Perhaps that fueled my passion for tractors and agricultural machinery. One of my favorite pastimes is listening to ranchera and country music and I enjoy rodeos – anything to do with horses and bulls.

When the time came to pick a university major, I chose to study agronomy because of experiences with my dad, and I’d grown to like it. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering from Agricultural Technological Institute No. 7, Morelia, Mexico, and then obtained my Master of Science degree in Biosystematics and Management of Natural and Agricultural Resources from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.  

My first job was in a biotechnology and molecular genetics research center in a laboratory doing plant DNA extraction and micropropagation. I worked there for two years. Then I worked for Monsanto for the next 18 years in various roles, where I met many people and lived in several places, but I always worked on breeding programs. I conducted hybrid evaluations in different areas of Mexico, and helped produce new hybrids in the winter nurseries. I also had responsibilities in seed processing. I especially liked the innovative use of new technologies in research programs.

For the last four years I was with Syngenta, responsible for the production of experimental seed lines in different stages of hybrid corn in the Global Nursery Group.

So far, I have moved eight times! The largest city I lived in (for 14 years) was Guadalajara, but the place I love is Puerto Vallarta. I lived there four years and my retirement plan is to return there. My wife and my two daughters are there now, but soon they will come to Oakes to live and study here in North Dakota.

I am excited to have accepted this position at the Oakes Irrigation Research Site and want to add my experience to those of many farmers and new generations of agronomists, as we work to contribute to the advancement of agriculture in the Great Northern Plains. 

I look forward to hearing your new ideas and recommendations as we work through the problems and challenges in agriculture.

The Oakes Irrigation Research Site is located four miles south of Oakes on Highway 1. If you have been by recently, you’ve noticed that the exterior of the new shop/office is nearly complete. Inside, the shop side is almost ready to store and repair our research equipment, too. The first phase of construction is being funded by the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, our partner at the site since 1970.

A 65-foot by 120-foot steel building with black wainscotting, white side walls, and a black roof stands on a gravel yard at the NDSU Oakes Irrigation Research Site.
Shop and office building at the Irrigation Research Site.

Miguel Paniagua
Site Manager and Agronomist