Nitrate and other solutes resulting from field-weathering of spent mushroom substrate (SMS) percolate into underlying soils and may migrate to groundwater. A field trial was conducted to investigate the potential influences of SMS weathering on groundwater quality. Spent mushroom substrate was deposited at 90 and 150 cm pile depths over a Typic Hapludult and weathered for 2 years. Eight casing wells were installed around the SMS piles to monitor the quality changes of groundwater with a high seasonal water table of 760 cm below the surface. Although leachate solutes had moved more than 200 cm deep in soil from the surface, no significant changes of groundwater quality caused by SMS weathering were observed even one year after removal of the SMS piles (3 years total). The groundwater had pH, electrical conductivity (EC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) of 4.3-5.7, 0.2-0.3 dS m(-1) and 0.7-2.2 mg L(-1), respectively. The major inorganic ions were Mg(2+), Ca(2+), Na(+), Cl(-), SO(4)(2-) and NO(3)(-), with a concentration range of 2.5-68.3 mg L(-1). The results suggest that SMS leachate solutes migrated fairly slow in deep subsurface soils of the experimental field. Considering that leachate solutes may move several meters in soil through preferential flow channels, weathering of SMS in fields with a high seasonal groundwater table >or=5 m below the ground is recommended. Conservatively, SMS weathering should be conducted on compact surfaces and leachate be collected and reused as liquid fertilizers.