In this paper, the performance of the Example Reference Biosphere model ERB 2B associated with the natural release scenario, discharge of contaminated groundwater to the surface environment, was evaluated by comparing its long-term projections of radionuclide dynamics and distribution in a soil-plant system to those of a process-based, transient advection-dispersion model. The models were parametrised with data characteristic of a typical rainfed winter wheat crop grown on a sandy loam soil under temperate climate conditions. Three safety-relevant radionuclides, 99Tc, 129I and 237Np with different degree of sorption were selected for the study. The results highlight the potential role deep roots play in soil-to-plant transfer under a natural release scenario where radionuclides are released into the subsoil. When considering the relative activity and root depth profiles within the soil column, much of the radioactivity was taken up into the crop from the subsoil compartment.