A Green Party policy would require all farmers to fence off rivers, lakes, waterways and wetlands from stock with a buffer zone for vegetation by mid-2017.
Green co leader Russel Norman announced the policy at the Raglan dairy farm of Madeline and Mike Moss - a farm Dr Norman said should be a model for others.
The Mosses have fenced and planted 14km of waterways on the farm as well as developing nine hectares of protected wetlands.
The Green Party will also require farmers and other commercial users to pay for any water used for irrigation and for the revenue to be ring-fenced for water clean-up measures.
Dr Norman said the charge would be decided after talks with stakeholders, but Treasury, the OECD and Ministry for the Environment had all recommended water charging yet National had not moved on it.
A 2010 Lincoln University survey had also shown most people, including farmers, believed commercial operators should pay for irrigation water.
"That's because freshwaters is a common good, and the use of it for private profit should result in a direct benefit to both the environment and wider community."
He said the Green's policies made good environmental sense and economic sense for farmers.
"Fencing livestock out of rivers and planting riverbanks has numerous economic benefits for farming: less stock loss in wet areas, lower vet bills, reduced costs for digging drains, weed control in riparian areas and fertiliser costs, increased land values, and better pasture quality."
To encourage the planting of riparian strips, the Green Party has proposed a $100 million fund over three years for farmers to access. Farmers would also get carbon credits for the riparian strip plantings.
The policies are the final prongs in the final prongs in the Greens' suite of proposals to try to clean up rivers and ensure they are as free from pollution from run off as possible.
National last week announced a $100 million fund over 10 years for councils to buy and retire strips of farmland near waterways to use for riparian strips. It will also require all dairy cattle be fenced out of waterways by July 2017, and for more collaborative work to be done with other cattle in low lying land.
Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy said farmers had already fenced more than 90 per cent of all dairy farm waterways voluntarily and the new requirement bolstered that.
"Our approach involves working collaboratively with farmers, water users and communities. You don't get good environmental results by aggressively penalising and taxing key industries."
Dr Norman said National's was a "token gesture" because it did not require farmers to provide riparian strips.
He said it was also important to control land use intensification, for which the Green Party has proposed new water rules under already announced policy.
The Greens have also proposed a protected rivers network, and new water standards to ensure rivers were clean enough to swim in.
The Green Party's 'Smart Farming for Clean Rivers' policy:
A new National Environment Standard for Fencing of Livestock and Riparian Strips
• require stock to be fenced out of waterways, lakes, and wetlands by 1 July 2017.
• riparian strips required, so fences must be far enough back for a buffer zone of vegetation.
• $100 million fund over 3 years to encourage planting of riparian strips.
• farmers get carbon credits for the strips.
• non-intensive farms with some cattle can use temporary fencing.
A charge on water used for irrigation, revenue to be used for water clean-up efforts