In underground (UG) multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO), transmit beamforming is used to focus energy in the desired direction. There are three different paths in the underground soil medium through which the waves propagate to reach the receiver. When the UG receiver receives a desired data stream only from the desired path, then the UG MIMO channel becomes a three-path (lateral, direct, and reflected) interference channel. Accordingly, the capacity region of the UG MIMO three-path interference channel, and the degrees of freedom (multiplexing gain of this MIMO channel) requires careful modeling. Therefore, expressions are required for the degrees of freedom of the UG MIMO interference channel. The underground receiver needs to perfectly cancel the interference from the three different components of the EM waves propagating in the soil medium. This concept is based upon reducing the interference of the undesired components to a minimum level at the UG receiver using the receive beamforming. In this paper, underground environment-aware MIMO using transmit and receive beamforming has been developed. The optimal transmit and receive beamforming, combining vectors under minimal intercomponent interference constraints, are derived. It is shown that UG MIMO performs best when all three components of the wireless UG channel are leveraged for beamforming. The environment-aware UG MIMO technique leads to three-fold performance improvements and paves the way for design and development of next-generation sensor-guided irrigation systems in the field of digital agriculture. Based on the analysis of underground radio-wave propagation in subsurface radio channels, a phased-array antenna design is presented that uses water content information and beam-steering mechanisms to improve efficiency and communication range of wireless underground communications. It is shown that the subsurface beamforming using phased-array antennas improves wireless underground communications by using the array element optimization and soil–air interface refraction adjustment schemes. This design is useful for subsurface communication system where sophisticated sensors and software systems are used as data collection tools that measure, record, and manage spatial and temporal data in the field of digital agriculture.
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