This paper reports a study on the effectivity and efficiency of trial trenching strategies for site discovery within the context of Dutch archaeological heritage management. It discusses the principles of site discovery by means of trial trenching, and suggests the optimal strategies for trial trenching survey, based on the results of simulations. Effective and efficient strategies for discovering different groups of archaeological sites are given, according to their presumed size, shape and feature density. The recommended strategies will be included in the Quality Norm for Dutch archaeology. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.